Texas’ same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, county judge rules

A gay rights supporter attends a rally Tuesday on the steps of the Texas Capitol in Austin, calling for more equality for same-sex couples.
(Eric Gay / Associated Press)

Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, a county probate judge ruled Tuesday, although it has not resulted in the issuing of marriage licenses.

The state’s bans on creating or recognizing marriages of same-sex couples “violate the due process clause and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman wrote in his ruling. Those bans include an amendment to the state constitution that voters approved in 2005.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir cheered the ruling, saying in a statement that it was “such a great step toward marriage equality.”


However, DeBeauvoir said her office had not begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples because Herman’s ruling did not instruct her to do so and because the county attorney’s office “is examining the order as well as the status of the current federal litigation related to marriage equality at the 5th Circuit and in the Supreme Court.”

Herman’s ruling came in an estate fight in which an Austin woman, Sonemaly Phrasavath, sought to have her eight-year relationship with Stella Marie Powell, who died of cancer last year, deemed common-law marriage, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Also on Tuesday, more than 100 faith leaders met with Texas lawmakers after holding a rally at the state Capitol to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender marriage rights, according to the Associated Press.

Austin, the capital of Texas, is also the seat of Travis County.

In February 2014, a federal judge overturned Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage, but he stayed his ruling pending appeals, so it has not gone into effect.

It is legal for same-sex couples to marry in more than 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

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