Federal judge sets hearing for Texas
same-sex marriage case
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[December 12, 2013]
By Lisa Maria Garza
DALLAS (Reuters) — A federal judge has
agreed to hear a case filed by two same-sex couples in Texas seeking to
overturn a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, their
lawyer said on Wednesday.
A San Antonio federal court will hear arguments in February in the
case seeking to nullify a 2005 amendment that defines marriage as
solely "the union of one man and one woman."
The suit was filed on behalf of Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole
Dimetman, a lesbian couple who were married in Massachusetts but
live in Austin, and for Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss, who applied
for a marriage license in San Antonio in October but were denied.
The lawsuit comes at a time of increasing momentum for gay marriage
in the courts, at the ballot box and in statehouses around the
country that have brought to 16 the number of U.S. states that allow
The trend has gained steam since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in
June that married same-sex couples were eligible for federal
benefits, striking down a key part of the 1996 federal Defense of
Massachusetts led the way in legalizing gay marriage by becoming the
first state to do so in 2003. A year ago, only six states and the
District of Columbia recognized same-sex marriage, but the number
has since increased due in most cases to litigation over the issue.
In Texas, state offices are dominated by Republicans, who stand
behind the amendment as part of what they say is a defense of
traditional marriage. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a
Republican and defendant in this case, is a front-runner in next
year's governor race and supports the amendment.
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The case joins several other marriage-equality lawsuits filed in
other states including Tennessee and Pennsylvania, in hopes of
challenging bans on gay marriage in their states before the Supreme
Texas is one of more than 30 states that ban same-sex marriage by
statute or through constitutional amendments defining marriage as a
union between a man and a woman.
The state attorney general's office declined to comment on the suit.
(Reporting By Lisa Maria Garza; editing by Cynthia Johnston and
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