On Friday, a federal court in New Orleans will hear arguments about Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage.
Last year, Mark Phariss and his partner Victor Holmes made history. The San Antonio federal judge who reviewed Phariss and Holmes and another couple’s case ruled the Texas law banning same sex marriage was unconstitutional.
“A federal judge actually said that Vic and I and gays and lesbians are equal to everyone else and that’s something we have not heard most of our life," Phariss says. “It was just an overwhelming moment."
The Plano couple was thrilled, but they still couldn’t get married because the judge left the ban in place pending appeal.
So now, it’s time for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to hear arguments. The 5th Circuit is considered one of the most conservative federal appeals courts in the country.
Does that matter?
“That’s a great question, and it’s a matter that we debate all the time,” says former U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson Jr., now the dean at the University of North Texas law school.
"The court is composed of very intelligent jurists and they’re committed to interpreting the law as required by Supreme Court precedents and the Constitution," Furgeson says. "And yet when you’re dealing with issues like this, there is wiggle room, where you can look at your own view of jurisprudence and see how it fits in the broader scheme of things.”
The three-judge panel will hear arguments about whether legislatures have the leeway to restrict same-sex marriage. And while it is possible the court won’t rule on the case, Ferguson is betting otherwise.
“I think a decision will be made,” he says.
Oral arguments start at 9 a.m. Friday.