AUSTIN (February 27, 2014) Texas gave notice of appeal Thursday that it will appeal a federal judge's decision to lift the state's ban on gay marriage.
Thursday's notice contains no arguments, but formally signals that Attorney General Greg Abbot intends to challenge the ruling by San Antonio-based Judge Orlando Garcia.
Garcia Wednesday struck down Texas' ban on gay marriage, but the left the ban in place pending a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later this year, which means gay couples cannot yet marry in the state.
Gov. Rick Perry was critical of the ruling in a statement Wednesday.
"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,” he said.
“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."
Garcia issued the preliminary injunction on the ban Wednesday, and then suspended his ruling.
“This is an issue on which there are good, well-meaning people on both sides. And, as the lower court acknowledged today, it’s an issue that will ultimately be resolved by a higher court,” Abbott said.
“Because the judge has stayed his own decision, his ruling has no immediate practical effect. Instead, the ultimate decision about Texas law will be made by the Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled over and over again that States have the authority to define and regulate marriage. The Texas Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman. If the Fifth Circuit honors those precedents, then today’s decision should be overturned and the Texas Constitution will be upheld,” he said.
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa praised the ruling.
“This is a historic day for the LGBT community and the state of Texas,” he said.
“As Dr. (Martin Luther King, Jr.) once stated, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ Today, all Texans can celebrate that we are one step closer to justice and equality for all,” he said.
Equality Texas called the ruling “a huge victory”
“We are gratified to see Judge Garcia uphold the Constitution of the United States and declare that Texas' restrictions on the freedom to marry are unconstitutional and unenforceable,” said Executive Director Chuck Smith.
“We anxiously await the day when the United States Supreme Court will reach the same conclusion."
Two gay couples challenged the state's constitutional amendment and a longstanding law banning gay marriage.
Under federal court rules, a judge may suspend a law if he or she believes the plaintiffs have a strong case and will suffer if the law is enforced.
Garcia said his injunction against Texas enforcing its ban will take effect once an appeals court has a chance to rule on the issue.
The ruling was the latest in a recent series of victories for gay rights activists.