Hell has officially frozen over. A federal judge in San Antonio has ruled that the state’s ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia didn’t clear the way for marriages to take place immediately, instead issuing a stay while the state appeals. However, in his ruling, he made it clear that the ban, passed by voters in 2005 by a 3-1 margin, is nothing more than antigay discrimination.
“Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent,” Garcia, a Clinton appointee, wrote. “Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.”
The case was brought by a gay couple who want to get married and a lesbian couple who want their out-of-state marriage to be recognized in Texas. The state’s case was argued by Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor and who is likely to use the ruling to appeal to hard-core conservative voters. Abbott had argued that lifting the ban was an attempt to “rewrite over 150 years of Texas law,” as if 150-year old laws were universally deserving of preservation.
Marriage equality is unlikely to take place in Texas until the Supreme Court rules on the myriad of cases that are bubbling up on the federal circuit. However, it’s worth noting that so far the anti-marriage forces have been zero for five in federal court, all of which cover traditionally conservative states (Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Kentucky and now Texas). Today’s ruling is just one more sign that the tide is coming in very quickly and there’s little that opponents of marriage equality can do to stop it.