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Looking Back At This Week's Same-Sex Marriage Ruling In Texas

Joey Palacios
TPR News
Same-sex marriage activists, including Carlos Soto, holding a flag, gathered in front of the Bexar County Courthouse Wednesday night after the ruling.

Texas Matters: We recap the ruling and reaction in the case challenging Texas' ban on same-sex marriage and a look at the history behind the ban. Also on this show: A new UT/Texas Tribune poll shows how the state is changing. What do outsiders think of Texas politics? Groups push Gov. Perry to regulate stun guns in schools. And how the cold is affecting sea turtles on Padre Island.

Ruling comes down in Texas same-sex marriage case

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio granted a motion for a preliminary injunction preventing the State of Texas from further enforcement of restrictions in the Texas Family Code and the Texas Constitution that have prevented same-sex couples from marrying in Texas.

Judge Garcia ruled that the Texas ban on same-sex marriage violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Here is a key passage of the Garcia ruling:

"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. Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution."

Texas social conservatives and Republican leaders were critical of the ruling.

Gov. Rick Perry responding with a statement:

"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. The 10th Amendment guarantees Texas voters the freedom to make these decisions, and this is yet another attempt to achieve via the courts what couldn’t be achieved at the ballot box. We will continue to fight for the rights of Texans to self-determine the laws of our state."

Texas Attorney General, and candidate for governor, Greg Abbott, while on the campaign trail in San Antonio, had this to say just after the ruling was released.

"This is an issue where there are good people on both sides of the issue and as the court pointed out today, today's ruling is just one step along the pathway toward resolving this. The court recognized that the issue will be decided by a higher court, so we will just continue the effort of defending the Texas Constitution and I believe if the Supreme Court or lower courts apply well-established Supreme Court principle, the Texas Constitution will be upheld."

So how are Texas same sex marriage advocates reacting to the ruling? We check in with Chuck Smith president of Equality Texas.

"This is the ruling that we were hoping for. The immediate stay was not a surprise -- in our preliminary arguments for the injunction the judge acknowledged that this is an issue that he is not going to ultimately be the decision maker. This is an issue that is ultimately going to the Supreme Court."

Garcia granted the injunction but stayed his ruling, which keeps the ban in place as the appeals process plays out. That means same-sex couples in Texas still cannot be legally married in the state.

Follow this case and other pending legal cases in Texas at WhyMarriageMattersTX.org

The history of Texas' same-sex marriage ban

  • Texas banned same sex marriage in 1997, when the state legislature added the line "A license may not be issued for the marriage of persons of the same sex" to the state's Family Code.
  • The state banned same-sex marriage again in 2003 when the legislature passed a ban on civil unions and officially declared civil unions and same-sex marriages performed in other states to be void in Texas.
  • Then in 2005 Texas triple banned same-sex marriage with a constitutional amendment that passed with 76 percent of the vote.
  • But today it looks like support for gay marriage in Texas has changed, though the state still lags behind the approval level nationwide.
  • According to polling data released in November 2013 from Public Policy Polling, 34 percent of voters in the state support it to 57 percent who are opposed.

Also on this edition of Texas Matters:

The Lone Star State is changing

Attitudes are quickly changing in Texas according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll.

Jim Henson is the director of the Texas Politics Projectat the University of Texas at Austin and the co-director of the poll.

An outsider's look at Texas politics

Tuesday is primary day in Texas and political watchers and pundits from across the nation will be watching the results and wondering about the workings of Lone Star politics.

But is Texas where crazy get elected? That’s what Michael Tomasky writes in his column for the Daily Beast. He is also the editor of the quarter Democracy: A journal of Ideas.

Groups pushing Gov. Perry, state agencies to regulate stun guns and pepper spray in Texas public schools

In Texas, stun guns are not permitted for use in county or state juvenile facilities. Even residential treatment centers in Texas, which house children with serious behavioral problems including those who have been found delinquent by the courts, are prohibited from using stun guns or pepper spray for disciplinary or emergency behavioral interventions.

But stun guns and pepper spray are allowed in Texas public schools to be used on the students.

Now a coalition of advocacy organizations are calling on Gov. Rick Perry to issue moratorium on stun guns and pepper spray in schools.

Lauren Rose is the juvenile justice policy associate with the organization Texans Care for Children.

“The risks associated with Tasers and pepper spray use on children are well documented. Beyond the health risks, the heavy-handed use of force on young people is counterproductive and traumatic. These tactics create school climates characterized by fear and intimidation rather than learning and positive relationships with adults. It is time for the Governor to step in and ensure Texas schools are kept safe.”

  • Read the letter to Gov. Rick Perry asking for a moratorium on stun guns and pepper spray in Texas public schools at www.texasappleseed.net
  • The seven organizations previously had called on two state agencies – the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement and the Texas Education Agency – to put a halt to this type of force in the state’s schools. Both agencies have since responded that they lack the authority to take action.

Cold affecting green sea turtles on Padre Island

The cold snap that hit Texas this last week took a lot of folks by surprise. But probably no one was caught more off guard than the endangered green sea turtles on the Texas Coast.

Donna Shaver is chief of the division of sea turtle science and recovery at Padre Island National Seashore, with the U.S. National Park Service. She says the endangered sea turtles on the Texas Coast are having a tough time these days.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi