SAN ANTONIO — Following a historic two-hour hearing Wednesday morning, U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia said five people are ultimately going to decide whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry — and he’s not one of them.
Garcia was referring to justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, where any ruling he makes will inevitably be upheld or reversed. Garcia did not rule after Wednesday’s hearing on two same-sex couples’ request for a preliminary injunction that would bar Texas from enforcing its bans on same-sex marriage pending a trial. He said a decision “will be forthcoming, at some time.”
“Counselors have made some excellent arguments on both sides,” Garcia said inside a packed courtroom at the federal courthouse in San Antonio at the conclusion of the hearing.
Outside the courthouse moments later, the two same-sex couples who are plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit challenging the marriage bans — Cleopatra DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman, and Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes — addressed the media.
“I think it’s interesting that the state points out that the voters approved a constitutional ban in 2005,” Phariss said. “The voters also throughout the entire nation approved a constitutional amendment, the 14th, in 1868, that provides for equal protection under the law. And that provision in the U.S. Constitution trumps anything that Texas does.”
Phariss, an attorney, called on Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott to do what his counterparts in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Nevada have done — and stop defending “an unconstitutional constitutional amendment.”
An attorney from Abbott’s office declined to comment following the hearing. However, the leader of the anti-gay group Texas Values commended the AG’s office, saying the state’s attorneys did a “fantastic job” of defending the bans.
“This is a frivolous lawsuit,” Saenz said. “This entire effort is an effort to redefine marriage and is a clear and direct attack on the definition of marriage as it is and it always has been.”
Stay tuned to Lone Star Q for a full report on arguments presented during the hearing.