Attorney General Greg Abbott will have to do a Texas two-step as he tries to defend the state’s same-sex marriage bans in federal court.
Following a hearing in Austin, a federal judge today rejected a motion from Abbott’s office to consolidate three separate lawsuits brought by same-sex couples who allege the marriage bans violate the U.S. Constitution.
The decision from U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks means the cases will proceed separately toward trial in Austin and San Antonio.
Neel Lane, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in one of the lawsuits, said he was pleased with the decision because it means a hearing set for Feb. 12 in San Antonio will go forward. U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia has scheduled the hearing to consider the couples’ motion for a preliminary injunction, which would bar the state from enforcing the marriage bans pending trial. The case is known as DeLeon v. Perry.
At today’s hearing, Sparks indicated the other two cases will be tried simultaneously in Austin — likely in late summer or early fall, Lane said. One of the Austin cases, Zahrn v. Perry, seeks class-action status for all Texas same-sex couples who are seeking to marry or have their marriages recognized. The other, McNosky v. Perry, is from a Tarrant County couple who are acting as their own attorneys.