By Stephen C. Webster on February 26, 2014

A federal judge in San Antonio ruled Wednesday (PDF) that the same sex marriage ban in Texas violates the Constitution by depriving the LGBT community of equal protection under the law.

"Today's Court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the United States Constitution and Supreme Court precedent," Judge Orlando Garcia, with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, explained in his ruling.

"Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution," he continued. "Furthermore, Supreme Court precedent prohibits states from passing legislation born out of animosity against homosexuals, has extended constitutional protection to the moral and sexual choices of homosexuals, and prohibits the federal government from treating state-sanctioned opposite-sex marriage and same-sex marriages differently."

Despite the clarity of his findings, Judge Garcia placed the preliminary injunction order on a temporary hold pending an appeal. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican running for governor this year, will assuredly appeal the ruling as soon as possible. It's also likely that marriage equality will once again become a political football in Texas, much as it was in 2005 when Proposition 2, the same sex marriage ban, was approved by voters during the general election.

The lawsuit that triggered Tuesday's ruling was a combination of two federal civil rights suits, filed by two same-sex couples in Texas: Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman in one case, and Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes in the other.

Judge Garcia's ruling will now move up to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which equality advocates fear may rule on the side of Texas. Citing the same precedent as Judge Garcia, federal courts have handed down similar rulings on marriage equality in Oklahoma, Virginia and Utah. Still, the circuit courts have been divided on the matter, and it may be a year or more before the Supreme Court either takes up a review or declines cases brought against state same sex marriage bans.

"Today's ruling by Judge Garcia is a huge victory that moves Texas one step closer to the freedom to marry," Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas, said in an advisory. "The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Windsor made it clear that animus or moral disapproval is not an acceptable justification for denying any American their constitutional right to equal protection of the law. We are gratified to see Judge Garcia uphold the Constitution of the United States and declare that Texas's restrictions on the freedom to marry are unconstitutional and unenforceable."

Photo: hand making the 'V' sign with rainbow colors," via Shutterstock.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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