Today comes word that US District Judge Orlando Garcia has ruled that Texas’s ban on same sex marriage, as specified in Article 1, section 32 of the Texas state constitution, is unconstitutional, saying that “the prohibition on same sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.” The order was stayed pending appeal. Texas thus joins Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Utah in this action, and other states have similar cases pending.
You can read the judge’s ruling here. The judge quoted extensively from United States v. Windsor (2013) and Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion in Lawrence v. Texas (2003) in arriving at his judgment. Who would have guessed that Scalia’s reasoning would be the driving factor in overturning these bans?
In his ruling the judge considered and dismissed the arguments that were brought up against allowing same sex couples to marry, and arrived at conclusions against them that seem so commonsensical that one wonders how people could even bring them up.
- Childrearing: Defendants have not provided any evidentiary support for their assertion that denying marriage to same-sex couples positively affects childrearing … To the contrary, this Court finds that far from encouraging a stable environment for childrearing, Section 32 denies children of same-sex parents the protections and stability they would enjoy if their parents could marry. … The Court finds same-sex couples can be just as responsible for a child’s welfare as the countless heterosexual couples across the nation. (p. 25)
- Procreation: [P]rocreation is not and has never been a qualification for marriage…. This procreation rationale threatens the legitimacy of marriages involving post-menopausal women, infertile individuals, and individuals who choose to refrain from procreating. These individuals who cannot or will not procreate are allowed to marry under Texas’ current laws. … Therefore, the Court finds the argument that allowing same-sex couples to marry will undermine procreation is nothing more than an unsupported “overbroad generalization” that cannot be a basis for upholding discriminatory legislation. (p. 27)
- Tradition: [T]radition, alone, cannot form a rational basis for a law. … The Court finds Section 32 is unconstitutional because without a rational relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose, it denies same-sex couples the benefits, dignity and value of celebrating marriage and having their out-of-state marriage recognized. (p. 29)
The judge concluded finally that, “The Court finds Section 32 is unconstitutional because without a rational relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose, it denies same-sex couples the benefits, dignity and value of celebrating marriage and having their out-of-state marriage recognized.”
You can cue a major freak-out over this ruling. Texas is seen as one of the strongest bastions of the reactionaries and they are not going to take kindly to a judge telling them what kinds of marriage they should accept.