HOUSTON — A federal judge in Texas struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday, ruling that the laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman violated the US Constitution, handing gay rights advocates a major legal victory in one of the biggest and most conservative states in the country.
The judge wrote that the amendment to the state Constitution that Texas voters approved in 2005 defining marriage as between a man and a woman — and two similar laws passed in 1997 and 2003 — denied gay couples the right to marry and demeaned their dignity “for no legitimate reason.”
“Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution,” wrote Judge Orlando L. Garcia of US District Court for the Western District of Texas, in San Antonio.
While significant, Garcia’s ruling will have no immediate effect. The judge issued a stay on his decision pending a likely appeal by the state’s lawyers to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, which is known as one of the country’s most conservative appeals panels.
State officials quickly criticized the ruling.
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