US: Texas judge refuses bid to allow same-sex marriage in time for Christmas

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An appeal to allow same-sex marriage in Texas in time for Christmas has failed, after a judge refused to lift the ban.

Judge Orlando Garcia struck down the state’s marriage ban in February, but stayed the ruling, meaning it will not come into effect until the appeals process is concluded.

Attorney General Greg Abbott has been accused of deliberately stalling his appeal to postpone the marriages for as long as possible – requesting multiple extensions to legal deadlines because his legal briefs were still “not ready” after several months.

Couples recently filed a motion calling on Judge Garcia to lift the stay – which they argue is no longer valid because of a separate Supreme Court decision – in time for Christmas.

However, Judge Garcia declined to lift the stay on the ruling, meaning couples will still have a lengthy wait before they are allowed to marry.

The judge also wrote that the beginning of marriages is “closer than ever before” – despite the lengthy delays in the appeal case.

Judge Garcia wrote: “Although the Court recognises that Plaintiffs are potentially harmed by the continuation of the stay, this harm is attenuated by the imminent consideration of their case by a full oral argument before the Fifth Circuit.

“The merits of the appeal in this case are scheduled to be heard on January, 9, 2015, that is, 28 days from the date of this Order.

“Given the Plaintiffs’ claims will soon be heard, ‘a temporary maintenance of the status quo balances the possibility of this harm with the need to resolve Plaintiffs claims in a manner that is both expeditious and circumspect’.

“Lifting the stay would not bring finality to this Fourteenth Amendment claim.

“To the contrary, such action would only be temporary, with confusion and doubt to follow. The day for finality and legal certainty in the long and difficult journey for equality is closer than ever before.

“Ultimately, as mentioned in the February 12, 2014 hearing, this Court believes the issue will ultimately be resolved by the United States Supreme Court and “a group of five people will decide this case.” Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ motion is DENIED.”