A gay couple from Plano has filed a lawsuit against the Family Code statute in the Texas Constitution, which prohibits same-sex marriages.
Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes decided they would celebrate their 16th anniversary of being a couple by filing for a marriage license at the Bexar County clerk’s office. The two men first met in San Antonio while Holmes was serving in the Air Force.
They were turned away, but Phariss said he knew that would happen.
"We thought about going out of state, but to go out of state would have no legal significance in Texas," Phariss said. "So we thought about pursuing litigation against the State of Texas on the basis of discrimination -- particularly in light of the Windsor case."
The Windsor case is a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said the federal interpretation of the term "marriage" and "spouse" may not only be applied or limited to heterosexual couples. Phariss said he doesn’t see their federal lawsuit as a longshot.
"It would be a longshot if the applicable law was Texas law, or if we’re going through the Texas Legislature, but we’re not," he said. "We’re pursuing our rights through the federal courts and we’re protected by the Bill of Rights, the equal protection clause and the due process clause."
Phariss and Holmes are joined in the suit by a San Antonio lesbian couple -- the group is asking the federal court to overturn the Texas Constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage.