My firm is dedicated to family law in Houston, and that means every family. Here’s a quick update on what’s going to take place regarding gay marriage in Texas.
In January, 2015 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will hear arguments that challenge bans against same-sex marriage within the state of Texas. A partner at Akin Grump Strauss Hauer & Feld in San Antonio, Daniel Lane Jr. represents plaintiffs who filed against the state of Texas due to the ban. He commented that while a January schedule may not seem expedited, seeing as how it is two months away, everyone is eager to present the case for marriage equality at the court’s first available opportunity.
The delay is a disappointment to many same-sex couples who have waited a long time for equal treatment as heterosexual couples in so-called “traditional” marriages. The delay may pose other complications for Lane’s clients, however. In the case De Leon v. Perry his clients, Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, her wife, are expecting their second child in the middle of March, 2015. Dimetman may miss the initial oral arguments because of her pregnancy.
A spokesperson for Attorney General Greg Abbott, who represents the state in De Leon v. Perry, Lauren Bean declined to respond to an email requesting comments. In November, the plaintiffs in the case filed a motion asking for the case to be heard this month, the reason cited for moving up the arguments being the aforementioned pregnancy.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s turning away of seven petitions for review from nearly half a dozen other states whose bans on same-sex marriage were struck down by three federal courts of appeals during 2014 garnered national attention for the Fifth Circuit court. The result of those denials was that same-sex marriage would now be legal in those states, which include Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Virginia.
In De Leon v. Perry, the Office for Attorney General Greg Abbott filed notice of appeal on February 27 of a ruling released the previous day by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, who serves San Antonio and surrounding areas. The Western District of Texas judge granted a motion for a preliminary injunction which was filed by a pair of same-sex couples charging both Texas officials and the clerk of Bexar County, each of which are defendants in the De Leon case, from applying the state of Texas’s Family Code articles which fail to recognize same-sex marriage.
In regards to the February 26 ruling, Garcia ruled, pending respective appeals, a stay of execution of the preliminary injunction. Garcia provided a 48-page opinion on the subject in which he wrote, “Regulation of marriage has traditionally been the province of the states and remains so today…Any state law involving marriage or any other protected interest must comply with the United States Constitution.”
Garcia referenced a ruling in 2013, United States v. Windsor, in which the U.S. Supreme court stated “that federal government cannot refuse to recognize a valid state-sanctioned same-sex marriage.” In response, he added to the aforementioned opinion, “Now, the lower courts must apply the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor and decide whether a state can do what the federal government cannot, discriminate against same-sex couples.”