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Texas appeals gay marriage ruling

Texas appeals gay marriage ruling
Couples Cleopatra De Leon, left, and Nicole Dimetman, and Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes, speak to journalists in San Antonio after a federal judge struck down Texas' ban on same-sex marriage. (Jerry Lara / San Antonio Express-News)

HOUSTON — One day after a federal judge struck down Texas' ban on same-sex marriage, the state on Thursday appealed the ruling.

Texas is one of several conservative states, including Oklahoma and Virginia, in which federal judges have struck down bans on same-sex marriage.

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U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio ruled Wednesday that the ban was unconstitutional. He wrote that it deprived same-sex couples of due process and equal protection of the law, stigmatizing them and treating them differently from other couples.

The judge stayed his ruling pending an appeal.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott and other officials promptly sent notice of appeal to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Abbott, a Republican campaigning for governor, had already announced plans to appeal.

"The ultimate decision about Texas law will be made by the Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court," Abbott said Wednesday, noting that the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled in favor of states defining and regulating marriage.

Some state attorneys general have refused to defend laws banning same-sex marriage.

Last week, Oregon's attorney general stopped defending the state's ban in federal court, noting in court filings that the law "cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge." That followed similar decisions by counterparts in Virginia, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages.

The number of cases challenging state bans began increasing last year after the Supreme Court struck down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Judges have ruled recently that prohibitions on same-sex marriage in Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia are unconstitutional and that Kentucky must recognize such marriages performed in states where they are legal.

Other states have overturned the bans by popular vote, including Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.

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