The judiciary across America is increasingly agreeing that state same-sex marriage bans cannot be justified.
On Wednesday, US District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that outlawing marriage for lesbian and gay couples in the deeply conservative Southern state of Texas is unconstitutional.
He called the state’s voter imposed ban on same-sex marriage “state-imposed inequality” and said that it “demeans the dignity” of gays and lesbians “for no legitimate reason.”
He noted that, “Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution.”
The ruling relates to a lawsuit against the ban brought by two couples, Cleopatra DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman and Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss.
However, same-sex marriages will not occur immediately in Texas as the ruling’s implementation is subject to the appeal process.
“This injunction sends a powerful message that gay and lesbian Texans are being harmed everyday by inequality,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin.
He said that the couple’s legal action is very likely to succeed in striking down Texas’ ban on marriage equality.
“This is a historic day in the heart of the South, and I can’t stress enough how important it is to move quickly until loving couples in all 50 states feel the full reach of this victory for equality,” he said.
Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry slammed the ruling and vowed to fight it. “Texans spoke loud and clear by overwhelmingly voting to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in our constitution, and it is not the role of the federal government to overturn the will of our citizens,” he said.
The Texas ruling comes on the heels of a year-long string of electoral, judicial and legislative victories for marriage equality in the US. Recently the New Mexico Supreme Court and federal district judges in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Ohio and Kentucky have ruled in favour of marriage for lesbian and gay couples.
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 17 states in the US.