Texas judge rules state same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

But there won't be a mad dash to the Austin courthouse -- yet

By Jenny Kutner
Published February 18, 2015 3:25PM (EST)
        (AP/Eric Gay)
(AP/Eric Gay)

A Texas judge ruled on Tuesday that the state ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, but that won't lead to any officially sanctioned unions just yet. In an estate fight challenging Texas' prohibition on same-sex marriage as a roadblock to same-sex common law marriages, Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman ruled in favor of Sonemaly Phrasavath, whose partner of eight years, Stella Powell, died last year. But county clerk Dana DeBeauvoir has temporarily decided against issuing same-sex marriage licenses in Austin.

“I am scrambling, trying to find out if there is anything I can do," DeBeauvoir told the Austin-American Statesman. "Right now, I think it’s no, but we are checking."

According to the Statesman, DeBeauvoir supports Herman's ruling and previously expressed that she planned to distribute marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately should the courts overrule the state ban. It is unclear, however, whether or not the clerk's office truly can start issuing licenses, as it's also unclear what will happen in the case of an appeal. Texas' recently instated attorney general, Ken Paxton, was not named in Phrasavath's lawsuit, and therefore cannot appeal the ruling.

Last year, a federal judge also ruled Texas' ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The earlier decision is currently being stayed and is under consideration by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is expected to rule on it soon. Regardless, the Supreme Court will weigh in on the issue of marriage equality this summer, which could determine the fate of same-sex marriage in Texas -- and across the country -- for good.

Jenny Kutner

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Austin Fifth Circuit Court Of Appeals Lgbt Rights Marriage Marriage Equality Same-sex Marriage Texas