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Judge: Texas' ban on same-sex marriage violates U.S. Constitution

Yesterday, the federal judge who heard the request a pair of same-sex couples made for a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of Texas' same-sex marriage ban has made a decision on the request. The decision, while not having any immediate effects on the state of things in Texas, is one that advocates of same-sex marriage likely find very encouraging.

The judge found that Texas' same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, that the couples' overall case is likely to succeed and that the ban causes harm to same-sex couples. Based on these findings, the judge ruled in favor of the couples' request for the preliminary injunction.

Now, you may be wondering: if the judge has ruled in favor of a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the ban, how is it that the decision will have no immediate effect? The reason is that the judge, while granting the injunction, also put a stay on the injunction going into effect. Thus, for the time being, Texas' prohibition against same-sex marriage will stay in force.

The stay will be in effect while appeals occur; the state has already said that it plans to ask the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear an appeal of the judge's ruling against the ban.

While the judge's ruling does not change anything for the time being, it has the potential to be very impactful because, depending on what happens in the appeals process, it could eventually lead to the same-sex marriage ban being taken out of force in Texas.

A legal marriage gives couples access to many different benefits and family-law-related legal mechanisms. Thus, whether or not they are allowed to have a state-recognized marriage is an incredibly significant thing for same-sex couples here in Texas. Consequently, what happens with this case as it goes through appeals is something same-sex couples here will likely be watching incredibly closely.

Source: The Dallas Morning News, "Federal judge rules Texas' gay marriage ban is unconstitutional," Robert T. Garrett, Feb. 26, 2014

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