On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that Texas’ amendment banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. While Judge Orlando Garcia stated that same-sex marriage should be legal in the state, he allowed his ruling to be stayed until an appeals court has a chance to review it. Therefore, at this moment, gay and lesbian couples cannot get married in the state of Texas.
This is just the latest step in what will surely be the complete toppling of same-sex marriage bans across the country. Currently, gay marriage is legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia. At the same time, there are currently lawsuits filed in 20 other states challenging the marriage laws. We’ve already seen federal judges rule the same-sex marriage bans in Utah, Virginia and Oklahoma unconstitutional in recent months. Those rulings are currently facing appeal, as will this Texas ruling.
However, it seems highly, highly unlikely that the appeal courts will overturn the judges’ rulings in these cases. The fact of the matter is that gay marriage is here to stay in America. If it isn’t legal in your state yet, it will be in short order. On top of that, if there are some states that hold out or don’t have lawsuits filed within, it is inevitable that the federal law will eventually reflect what is happening in these court. Marriage equality will be the law of the land.
Perhaps this inevitability is the reason gay discrimination bills have popped up in the state legislatures of certain red states recently. The fear of having to accept gay marriage and seeing gay and lesbian couples ‘flaunting’ their relationships was too much to take for the religious right. Knowing that they couldn’t stop the tide of marriage equality, they decided to take a presumably quieter approach by trying to get ‘religious freedom’ bills passed in states with Republican dominated governments.
The only thing is that it didn’t work. A large spotlight was cast on Kansas and Arizona regarding the bills that were passed. The business community freaked, as did more pragmatic Republicans, realizing the long-lasting and negative effects that passing these laws would have on the GOP. At some point, the Republican Party doesn’t want to be labeled as hateful, intolerant and bigoted anymore. Passing these laws would be the death knell for the GOP as a national political party.
The ruling in Texas on Wednesday is just another step towards eliminating the discrimination the LGBT community faces in this nation. Judge Garcia rejected the notion that each state in this country should be allowed to determine what the definition of marriage is. The reason he rejected it shows exactly why same-sex marriage bans in other states will quickly fall.
“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.”
Essentially, if a state can’t find a legitimate purpose for outlawing same-sex marriage, then a law should not be on the books. A law can’t be made to purposely discriminate against a certain segment of the population just because it makes another segment of the population feel better. At that point, you are sanctioning inequality. That is how more and more federal judges are reading the law in terms of same-sex marriage. Gay marriage is here to stay.