(CNN) – A federal judge has struck down Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage, ruling Wednesday it has no “rational relation to a legitimate government purpose.”
The decision is the latest in a series of federal and state court moves to overturn current laws forbidding gay and lesbians from legal wedlock.
Judge Orlando Garcia, based in San Antonio, stayed enforcement of his decision pending appeal, meaning homosexual couples in Texas for the time being cannot get married.
“One of the court’s main responsibilities is to ensure that individuals are treated equally under the law. Equal treatment of all individuals under the law is not merely an aspiration it is a constitutional mandate,” said Garcia.
“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 marriages and same-sex marriages differently,” he said.
Two same-sex couples filed the original lawsuit: Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman of Austin; and Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes of Plano.
Among those defending the Texas ban is state Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is the leading Republican candidate for governor.
State officials are expected to now take their case to a federal appeals court in New Orleans.
Garcia’s decision follows similar conclusions in recent weeks by federal courts in Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Virginia.
The renewed legal, political, and social momentum on the issue comes eight months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of a federal Defense of Marriage Act that did not recognize for federal purposes legally married same-sex couples. Seventeen states now allow such legal unions.
The Texas case is De Leon v. Perry (5:13-cv-982).