Following Federal Judge Orlando Garcia's ruling that Texas' same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, a group of gay rights activists took to the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse to celebrate the invalidation of the law.
The cold and the rainy weather did not discourage at least thirty supporters of the decision. The ruling does not immediately allow for same-sex marriages to take place, but Trisha Stuart, a participant in the rally, said it’s a step forward.
“It’s so nice that Texas is finally catching up with the rest of the country and not being so ignorant and backwards anymore,” Stuart said. “I didn’t think it would it come, at least not this soon.”
The ruling follows a string of strike downs finding such bans unconstitutional. Maria Salazar and her partner Joanne have been together 19 years. She said with several rulings from conservative states, the movement is gaining momentum.
“If it comes out of New York or California, I can hear our colleagues in the Midwest saying, ‘Oh that’s California,’ or, ‘That’s those damn Yankees.' " Salazar said. "But the fact that it’s coming out of Texas really shows that same-sex couples should have the right to marry if that’s what they choose to do.”
News of SB 1062 in Arizona being vetoed also resonated positively with the supporters. The bill would have allowed businesses and other institutions to refuse service to individuals based on religious beliefs. Equal rights across the country feared it would be used to unfairly target gays and lesbians.
Brad Velos, another attendee at the rally, said he believes Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer made the right decision in vetoing it.
“I would hope that she has realized that spreading hate really is not going to be the key to running a state and that if she wants to continue governing Arizona she really needs to look at her back yard," Velos said.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has said he plans to appeal the decision the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Lawmakers and advocates celebrate ruling in Austin:
Word spread fast across the state, and at Austin’s downtown restaurant the Brass House, hundreds of marriage equality supporters gathered to celebrate the recent decision. State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, kicked off the festivities.
"Those in control of this state need to stop fighting the future, they must stop pretending that there’s some type of security blanket in laws that treat others unfairly," Watson said. "They must stop preaching hearsay that God somehow approves bigotry."
Former state Rep. Glen Maxey, who was the first openly gay lawmaker in Texas history, also helped rally the crowd in downtown Austin.
"The great civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King famously said, 'The arc of immoral universe is long but it bends toward justice.' Today the arc of justice has bent all the way down and touched Texas and has formed the most perfect gay rainbow." Maxey said.
Just down the street at the state capitol, Gov. Rick Perry released a statement:
"Texans spoke loud and clear by overwhelmingly voting to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in our Constitution, and it is not the role of the federal government to overturn the will of our citizens. The 10th Amendment guarantees Texas voters the freedom to make these decisions, and this is yet another attempt to achieve via the courts what couldn’t be achieved at the ballot box. We will continue to fight for the rights of Texans to self-determine the laws of our state."