“After careful consideration, and applying the law as it must, this Court holds that Texas’ prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. Texas’ current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason. Accordingly, the Court finds these laws are unconstitutional and hereby grants a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendants from enforcing Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage.”
- US District Judge Orlando Luis Garcia, 26 February 2014
That was the ruling that a federal district judge for the Western District of Texas based in San Antonio came to at the end of last month. Judge Garcia based his ruling on the Windsor decision that was announced back in June 2013.
The case is pending appeal so all those same-sex couples in Texas don't descend on the county courthouse quite yet.
The journey for these two couples continue as the case goes before the Fifth Circuit of Appeals. This court of appeals is
stacked with Reagan and W. Bush ideologues more
conservative leaning with a 10-4 advantage by Republican presidents, 6 of those
appointees were by George W. Bush. There are three vacancies on this court.
Attorney General Greg Abbott is the Texas Republican Party's nominee for governor and he is going to fight this decision. While he is well within his capacity to do so in his role as Texas Attorney General and it will garner him support by his voting bloc, all this will do is waste taxpayers dollars and delay the inevitable: Marriage equality will go nationwide after 2020, if not sooner depending on what more federal courts say and when it is brought up by the Supreme Court sometime in a couple of years.
In May 2011, Gallup discovered that a majority of Americans believe that marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by law as valid. with the same rights as traditional marriages (whew... lots of words in that question). After the Windsor decision, Gallup found that if put up to a national issue referendum it would pass 52-43. Most of the support are among self identified liberals, women, and young people which were key demographics that carried Barack Obama to victory in 2008 and 2012.
If Attorney General Greg Abbott and other Republican attorney generals across the country wish to keep defending the constitutionality of these anti-equality laws, it will make the Republican Party unelectable in future elections. As noted above young people support marriage equality. I am currently lumped into the 18-34 age group which according to the July 2013 Gallup poll supports same-sex marriage 69-27. The 35-54 age group supports it 52-44. What do you think will happen when all those 18-34 people enter in the new age demographic? It will likely go up. And then there is the issue of those in the 17 and under demographic that are not being polled. How many of those in that age group are being raised by same-sex couples, have friends that are gay, or have a LGBT family member and how many are going to start influencing public opinion on this subject once they turn 18?
I might have said this in other posts, but it is worth repeating again. I had a conversation with a cousin who turns 16 this coming August and we share a common family member who is LGBT. I told him (and these are my exact words) that "the demonization of gay people is not longer a popular position." Any group, like say a political party, keeps up their efforts to make the lives of LGBT persons difficult risk this phrase that was popularized by the British Labour Party in 1983: political suicide.
17 states plus DC have equalized marriage, Colorado, Oregon, and Nevada have civil unions, and federal judges in Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and now Texas have ruled their respective state bans on same-sex marriages as unconstitutional.
Rachel Maddow said it best on Meet The Press the Sunday after the Windsor decision about what this is really about.
"I mean, gay people exist. There’s nothing we can do in public policy can do to make more of us exist or less of us exist. And you guys for a generation have argued that public policy ought to demean gay people as a way of expressing disapproval of the fact that we exist. But you don’t make any less of us exist, you are just arguing for more discrimination. And more discrimination doesn’t make straight people’s lives any better."
- Rachel Maddow, 30 June 2013
Republicans can continue to ignore reality of what the polls and courts are saying on this subject. Just because you ignore the issue does not mean it will disappear.