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- From left: from left, Cleopatra De Leon, Nicole Dimetman, Mark Phariss and Victor. The two same-sex couples are challenging Texas' same-sex marriage ban.
Texas LGBT Couples Fight for Their Right to Marry
This year, San Antonio has been the epicenter in the fight for marriage equality in Texas.
The two couples challenging Texas' constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage—Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, and Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss, whom we profiled in a January 29 cover story—met and dated in the Alamo City. The couples' attorney is Neel Lane, a San Antonio-based lawyer for Akin and Gump.
In February, San Antonio U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that the state's ban is unconstitutional, writing in his opinion that "Texas' current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason." The state has repeatedly argued that it has an interest in promoting procreation among heterosexual couples in Texas, but Garcia found the state had no rational basis for its ban. Garcia also granted the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction, though he placed a legal hold on his decision to give the state a chance to appeal. The case is now working its way through the federal appeals process and is scheduled for oral arguments in early January before a three-judge panel of the conservative U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The plaintiffs and their attorneys had asked for an earlier hearing because De Leon and Dimetman are expecting their second child. Though they were disappointed with the schedule, Dimetman, nearly seven months pregnant, told the Current that they hope the court will make a decision before the birth in March.
While preparing for oral arguments at the Fifth, Lane has also asked Garcia to lift his legal stay on the decision and open the door for same-sex couples to get marriage licenses while the case is being considered. Garcia had denied the request in mid-December.
Nationally, conflicting opinions among other appeals courts have increased the likelihood that the Supreme Court will take up the issue sooner rather than later.