Another day, another state ban on same-sex marriage struck down by a federal judge. This time it’s Texas, where Judge Orlando Garcia issued a preliminary injunction finding the law violates the Equal Protection Clause, following closely the logic of the Supreme Court’s Windsor ruling.
Regulation of marriage has traditionally been the province of the states and remains so today. However, any state law involving marriage or any other protected interest must comply with the United States Constitution. In United States v. Windsor, the United States Supreme Court recently held that the federal government cannot refuse to recognize a valid state-sanctioned same-sex marriage. Now, the lower courts must apply the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor and decide whether a state can do what the federal government cannot discriminate against same-sex couples.
The issue before this Court is whether Texas’ current definition of marriage is permissible under the United States Constitution. After careful consideration, and applying the law as it must, this Court holds that Texas’ prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. Texas’ current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason. Accordingly, the Court finds these laws are unconstitutional and hereby grants a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendants from enforcing Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage…Today’s Court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the United States Constitution and Supreme Court precedent. Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution. Furthermore, Supreme Court precedent prohibits states from passing legislation born out of animosity against homosexuals (Romer), has extended constitutional protection to the moral and sexual choices of homosexuals (Lawrence), and prohibits the federal government from treating state-sanctioned opposite-sex marriages and same-sex marriages differently (Windsor).
Let’s fill the Gulf of Mexico with the tears of the Christian right and go surfing. The judge did issue a stay of his order to allow for an appeal and with several federal courts overturning state laws over the last few months, the Supreme Court will almost certainly have to hear one of those cases, probably in 2015. The $25,000 question is whether Justice Kennedy is ready to go all the way with the reasoning of his own ruling in Windsor, which he wasn’t willing to do a year ago. You can read the full ruling here.