Texas Ban on Same-sex Marriage Struck Down By Federal Court
The dominoes continue to fall as today a federal court in Texas ruled that the Texas gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. Expect plenty of shrieking and flying spittle from Christofascists circles which must be smarting as it is from all of the blow back against Arizona’s Christofascist backed “turn the gays away” bill sitting on Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk. In the ruling, the Court found that there was no rational basis to support Texas’ intentionally discriminatory ban.
“Today’s ruling by Judge Garcia is a huge victory that moves Texas one step closer to the freedom to marry”, said Equality Texas executive director Chuck Smith in a statement released to the public. “The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Windsor made it clear that animus or moral disapproval is not an acceptable justification for denying any American their constitutional right to equal protection of the law. We are gratified to see Judge Garcia uphold the Constitution of the United States and declare that Texas’ restrictions on the freedom to marry are unconstitutional and unenforceable. We anxiously await the day when the United States Supreme Court will reach the same conclusion.”
Here’s the language the Court uses to demolish the usual proffered justifications for anti-gay discrimination:
Defendants in this case have identified two bases or purposes for Section 32: (1) to increase the likelihood that a mother and a father will be in charge of childrearing; and (2) to encourage stable family environments for responsible procreation. These bases fail rational basis review as explained below.(1) ChildrearingThere is no doubt that the welfare of children is a legitimate state interest; however, limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples fails to further this interest. Instead, Section 32 causes needless stigmatization and humiliation for children being raised by the loving same-sex couples being targeted. See Bostic, 2014 WL 561978, at * 18. “Like opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples have happy, satisfying relationships and form deep emotional bonds and strong commitments to their partners.” Perry, 704 F. Supp. 2d at 967. Homosexual couples are as capable as other couples of raising well-adjusted children. See id. at 980 (“Children raised by gay or lesbian parents are as likely as children raised by heterosexual parents to be healthy, successful and well-adjusted”); Varnum v. Brien, 763 N.W.2d 862, 899 (Iowa 2009) (“Plaintiffs presented an abundance of evidence and research, confirmed by our independent research, supporting the proposition that the interests of children are served equally by same-sex parents and opposite-sex parents.”) Defendants have not provided any evidentiary support for their assertion that denying marriage to same-sex couples positively affects child rearing.[T]his Court finds that far from encouraging a stable environment for child rearing, Section 32 denies children of same-sex parents the protections and stability they would enjoy if their parents could marry.Furthermore, Defendants’ proffered reason fails rational basis because Defendants have failed to establish how recognizing a same-sex marriage can influence, if at all, whether heterosexual couples will marry, or how other individuals will raise their families.(2) ProcreationThe procreation argument raised by Defendants also fails. The notion that same-sex marriage will encourage responsible procreation assumes that heterosexual marriage is “naturally procreative.” However, procreation 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.See Bishop, 2014 WL 116013, at *30. These individuals who cannot or will not procreate are allowed to marry under Texas’ current laws.Therefore, Section 32 makes “no sense in light of how [it] treat[s] other groups similarly situated in relevant respects,” and consequently, “encouraging stable environments for procreating” does not provide a rational basis for Section 32.
Michael Hamar is an out gay attorney in a committed relationship; formerly married and father of three wonderful children; sometime activist and political/news junkie; survived coming out in mid-life and hope to share my experiences and reflections with others. Follow him at Michael In Norfolk.
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