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Government/Politics

U.S. 5th Circuit Court Hears Oral Arguments Challenging Texas’ Ban On Same-Sex Marriage

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Nicole Dimetman
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Two same-sex couples, who began their relationship in San Antonio and later filed a lawsuit against Texas’ ban on gay marriage, have presented their case before a panel of judges at the U.S. 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans. They are also speaking out, and asking that all gay couples in Texas flood the Internet with the story of their relationships and the challenges they face, related to the state’s ban.

Marc Phariss, Vic Holmes, Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman won their case before San Antonio Federal District Judge Orlando Garcia almost a year ago. That ruling was put on hold, pending a 5th Circuit Court decision. Their case was one of three lawsuits heard by a panel of judges at the New Orleans court Friday.

Dimetman and De Leon said that since they joined the lawsuit, they’ve gained lots of perspective from meeting other same-sex couples in the same boat. “When we first filed the lawsuit last year, there weren’t that many other cases out there nationwide, filed on this issue. Since then, there have been a lot of cases and people that have gotten involved, and so we’ve had the pleasure of meeting a bunch of people that have helped along the way,” said Dimetman.

She knows the impact of this case goes far beyond the couples listed on a court document. She said it involved families struggling with areas of the law that do not offer gay couples recognition or the protection of the law, areas from custody and guardianship issues to end-of-life beneficiary decisions. These were challenges that she and partner De Leon dealt with when the latter was pregnant with their first son. Dimetman, who is now expecting the couple’s second child, said they were experiencing a sense of déjà vu as the delivery time came closer.

De Leon agreed. “We are reliving the same anxieties, the same fears and concerns; what we saw the first time around was that there were a lot of gaps in the law that didn’t protect us. There’s no legal document, there’s no power of attorney that will cover that,” she stated.

Attorneys arguing for the Texas Attorney General’s office argue however, that the matter is one of the state’s rights, and point out that Texas voters had overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2005. However, multiple polls since then have shown that Texans’ views on gay marriage may well be shifting.  

Meanwhile, justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are also meeting behind closed doors to decide if there is enough compelling interest to hear the challenge to Texas — the nation’s most populous state where same-sex marriage is illegal — and other states that have banned same-sex marriage.