The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday said it would not weigh in on gay marriage appeals in five states. That means same-sex weddings could soon take place in those states, including Oklahoma. Monday's court action could have an impact in Texas, where a judge’s order striking down the gay marriage ban is on appeal.
Plano attorney Mark Pharris applauds the Supreme Court’s action. He and his partner are plaintiffs in the lawsuit to overturn the ban on gay marriage in Texas.
“For all the people in Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, Utah and Indiana it’s a huge win," Pharris says.
The court’s action immediately ends delays on same sex marriages in those states. And analysts expect it to clear the way for gay marriages in six additional states where appeals courts have struck down the ban. Pharris believes Texas is not far behind.
“It really I think raises the bar now for Texas to justify why it’s continuing an appeal and spending valuable taxpayer money on an appeal that clearly has really very limited, if any chance of success," Pharris says.
That’s not now Jonathan Saenz sees it.
“There’s no question that the decision means that Texas becomes even more important on this issue and the Fifth Circuit still has an opportunity to uphold our state marriage laws, which many people expect that it will," Saenz says.
He's president of the Austin-based group Texas Values, which says 76 percent of Texans agree that marriage is a union between and man and a woman. In 2005 they voted to put it into the state constitution. He’s optimistic about the state’s chances in federal appeals court in New Orleans.
Dallas Attorney Peter Schulte is involved in a same-sex marriage "divorce" case pending in the Texas Supreme Court. He says the state could win its battle to uphold the gay marriage ban because the Fifth Circuit is one of the most conservative.
“I think the Supreme Court will step in and they gave us an indication today of what their ruling will be: that gay marriage is legal and it should be legal," Schulte says.
The tide has turned, says Cece Cox, CEO of Resource Center, which serves the LGBTQ community.
“We’re now in a situation where the landscape is we could jump from 19 states recognizing marriage equality to 30 based upon this," Cox says.
But she says the battle is far from over in the courts -- and in the workplace.
“It’s still legal to fire people in many states because of their sexual orientation or gender identity," Cox says. "So, we’re a long way from equality, but this is a step in the right direction in terms of recognizing our families.”
Lawyers Pharris have filed a new request with the Fifth Circuit to hear that case in November.