The US, the land of liberty, is perhaps not as liberal after all, as the nation would like to believe, for while gay marriages have been made legal in 13 countries around the world, including Canada, France, Brazil, and South Africa, the US remains essentially divided over the issue.
Only seventeen states, in addition to the District of Columbia, allow gay marriages, while at least another 20 states are currently embroiled in lawsuits against bans on same-sex marriage. The raging debate came to the forefront in Texas on Wednesday, where a federal judge decided to strike down the ban imposed on gay marriages by the state.
The Lone Star Debate
The lawsuit was filed by two gay couples, challenging the 2003 ban on gay marriages and the State of Texas's constitutional amendment of 2005, which was approved by as many as 76% voters. Judge Orlando Garcia suspended the law in Austin, but left it in place for an Appeals court to rule on later this year.
Judge Garcia cited the guarantees of equal protection and due process offered by the Constitution of the United States and contended that the ban imposed by the Lone Star State was in direct conflict with the Constitution. The Texas Attorney General's office had argued that the ban was well within the rights of each individual state and that it served the interests of Texans where procreation and child rearing were concerned.
The Republican Governor, Rick Perry, has vowed to appeal the decision, claiming that the federal government had no right overturning the will of the state's citizens, who had overwhelmingly chosen to define marriages as a bond only between a man and a woman.
Reactions and Ripples
The two couples that had filed the lawsuit issued a joint statement, expressing their delight at Judge Garcia's decision. The state lead organizer for GetEQUAL TX, Michael Diviesti, and the CEO of Resource Center Dallas, Cece Cox, also issued statements, citing the significance of this decision as a positive step forward towards justice and equality for the LGBT community.
Judge Garcia's ruling follows in the footsteps of similar decisions by federal judges in Virginia, Utah, and Oklahoma, but it is widely believed that Texas - being the most influential and the largest red state - will have the most significant impact upon the LGBT marriage rights debate if the decision is upheld in the Appeals court.