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Texas enters the fray of same-sex marriage court battles

The state of Texas entered the battle of the legalization of same-sex marriage. A lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Antonio by two Texas same-sex couples in an attempt to overturn the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Two of the plaintiffs were married in 2009 in Massachusetts, a state that legally allows same-sex couples to wed. The couple claims that Texas officials’ refusal to acknowledge their marriage has caused them undue hardship, even interfering in their child custody status, as only one parent’s name was permitted on their child’s birth certificate.

Plaintiffs are optimistic that the presiding judge will rule in their favor. President Bill Clinton appointed the U.S. District Judge to the bench during his tenure in office. The judge is Texas’ state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte’s brother-in-law. Van de Putte is also a Democratic candidate for the office of lieutenant governor. There is speculation that the judge will have more sympathy for the plaintiffs’ case than another U.S. District judge appointed by President George H. W. Bush. That judge is presiding over similar suits filed in Austin.

The president of Texas Values, a conservative group that supports the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, states that a judge’s ruling against the same-sex marriage ban would undermine the state’s ability to prevent the federal government from forcing its authority over the citizens of Texas. He and other conservatives around the state believe the issue should be left up to voters, noting that 76 percent of Texans voted in 2005 to approve an amendment limiting marriage to be between one man and one woman.

The executive director of the LGBT advocacy group Equality Texas has a markedly different opinion. He claims that recently conducted polls indicate a sea of change in the opinion of a majority of Texas voters, who now favor legal recognition for gay couples who wish to marry.

On the national stage, a victory in Texas would be considered a major accomplishment for either side of the issue.

It’s clear that opponents and supporters of same-sex marriage in Texas will have a busy year following these landmark cases.

Source: Texas Tribune, “Same-Sex Marriage Advocates Battle in Court” Edgar Walters, Feb. 12, 2014

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