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The Dominoes Are Falling: Texas Ban on Gay Marriage Ruled Unconstitutional

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

Gay rights activists have to feel like they have tackled a giant after a major court ruling on Wednesday, February 26. San Antonio federal Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that the Texas ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. He issued a preliminary injunction on the ban, but then suspended his ruling. For now, the ban will stay in place until an appeals court rules on the matter later this year, but this ruling will still be considered a monumental victory for advocates of marriage equality.

Why doesn't the injunction go into effect immediately? It is because Garcia suspended his ruling, which means that while he found the ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional, he is going to let an appeals court have the final say. Of course, as heated as this legal fight is about to become, it will most certainly be taken to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Texas is just the latest state to have its ban on same-sex marriage struck down by a federal judge in recent weeks. While the Supreme Court side-stepped the issue with its 2013 decision to dismiss an appeal on California's Proposition 8, allowing the Ninth Circuit to have the final say on the matter, the first domino was tipped and now they seem to be falling in rapid succession. It is getting to a point where the justices on the high court will not be able to duck the issue for much longer.

Does the Tenth Amendment allow states to define marriage as they see fit? Or, do bans on same-sex marriage violate the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment? Texas will fight tooth and nail to protect its ban on same-sex marriage, which was approved by voters in 2005 with an overwhelming 76 percent of the vote. But, gay rights activists have been very successful as of late arguing that state legislatures and voters cannot deny a group of people equal protection under the law.

Photo Credit: Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

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