Federal Judge Shoots Down Marriage Protection Amendment in Texas

By:  Dave Bohon
Federal Judge Shoots Down Marriage Protection Amendment in Texas

A federal judge has struck down Texas' constitutional amendment, approved in 2005 by 76 percent of the state's voters, that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

In his February 26 decision Federal District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that the amendment violated the U.S. Constitution by prohibiting homosexual marriage, and that it denigrated the dignity of gays and lesbians.

In his 48-page opinion Garcia wrote that after “careful consideration, and applying the law as it must, this court holds that Texas' prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process. Texas' current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason.”

The judge, placed on the federal bench by President Clinton in 1994, noted that while regulating 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 insisted that his ruling was not made “in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the United States Constitution and Supreme Court precedent. Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution.”

While the ruling made waves in both conservative, pro-family and pro-homosexual circles, the New York Times noted that it “will have no immediate effect on gay and lesbian couples wishing to marry in Texas. The judge issued a stay on his decision while the state appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans.”

The Texas ruling is the latest in a number of legal decisions that have struck down the will of the voters in several states with regards to the definition of marriage. Earlier this year federal judges overturned voter-passed marriage protection amendments in both Virginia and Oklahoma, and a judge recently ruled that Kentucky must honor homosexual unions recognized as marriage in other states.

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