Texas Gay Marriage Ban Falls to Windsor

It was one thing for same-sex marriage bans to be struck down - in full or in part - in traditionally conservative states like Kentucky, Virginia, Utah, and Oklahoma, but it's something else entirely, at least from a political standpoint, for the same-sex marriage ban in Texas to have suffered a similar fate.

Today, in the case of De Leon v. Perry, a federal district judge declared the Texas ban to be unconstitutional primarily on Fourteenth Amendment grounds. Since the U.S. Supreme Court decision of United States v. Windsor last summer, six federal judges have ruled against state bans (in whole or in part) in Ohio, Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Virginia, and now Texas. State courts in New Jersey and New Mexico have followed suit.

Also today, in the Kentucky case of Bourke v. Beshear, Judge John Heyburn granted the motion of two new couples to intervene in the case. The original case was solely a challenge to Kentucky's refusal to recognize valid out-of-state same sex marriages. The new plaintiffs are two homosexual couples seeking marriage licenses in Kentucky, where they live. They have now joined the case (represented by the same attorneys - of whom I am one - as the original Bourke plaintiffs), and Judge Heyburn will have the opportunity to expand his initial ruling to address the constitutionality of the rest of Kentucky's anti-gay marriage laws. A ruling on those issues can be expected in the next several months.

All that aside, and procedural stays notwithstanding, gay marriage is now legal for over 162 million Americans, or roughly 51% of the population. If the legal tide continues to turn as it has, and the U.S. Supreme Court agrees with the district courts' interpretation of Windsor, marriage equality could be the law of the entire United States in the next two or three years.