Texas: Marriage ban boosts ‘stable relationships’

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Attorney General Greg Abbott argued that it's up to the voters of Texas, and not federal judges, to decide the fate of gay marriage and that allowing it would undermine “stable, lasting relationships” that produce children.

“This case is not about whether Texas should recognize same-sex marriage,” Abbott wrote in an appeal filed on Monday. “It is about the question of who decides. There are rational, thoughtful arguments on both sides of the political debate about whether to legalize same-sex marriage. That debate should be allowed to continue among voters and within democratically election legislatures. Under the United States Constitution, the decision belongs to the people of Texas and their elected representatives, not the federal courts.”

Abbott's appeal comes as the state fights U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia's decision in February striking down the state's gay marriage ban. In DeLeon V. Perry, Garcia found that the ban violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The appeal also comes as Abbott, a Republican, faces Democrat Wendy Davis in the governor's race. Davis backs gay marriage and has called on Abbott to drop his defense of the state's ban.

On Monday, Abbott argued that the state's gay marriage ban does not conflict with any Supreme Court ruling, language in the Constitution or “any longstanding practice or tradition.” But even if views on gay marriage change, it's not up to the courts to dictate that, he wrote.

“Views on same-sex marriage are changing. They may continue to change. They may not. Those on both sides of the public debate believe passionately in their cause and seek to convince their fellow citizens of its merits. As important as this debate is for our nation, its outcome is not dictated by the Constitution, and it should not be resolved by the federal courts,” Abbott argued.

“Ending the vigorous civic debate on same-sex marriage by forcing all 50 states into a court-ordered, one-size-fits-all solution is not the resolution our Constitution envisions,” he added.

But Abbott's “procreation-focused” defense of the state's marriage ban fell flat with Mark Phariss, a gay friend of Abbott's and one of the four plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

From the AP:

Mark Phariss, a longtime friend of Abbott's who along with his partner sued the state over the ban, argued that the real harm to children is done when their parents aren't granted “the benefits and protections of a marriage.”

“Our constitutional rights are not up for the vote of Texas citizens,” he said. “That point has been made unanimously by every district court and now two circuit courts who have looked at this issue.”

Also Monday, Abbott's office refused to accept 5,200 petitions from marriage equality activists asking him to stop defending the state's gay marriage ban.

Abbott's appeal came the same day that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling striking down Virginia's gay marriage ban. That decision prompted North Carolina's attorney general to announce that he would no longer defend the state's gay marriage ban. The attorney general in South Carolina said he would continue to fight attempts to overturn that state's ban. The 4th Circuit includes Virginia, West Virginia and the Carolinas.

Last week, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens defended the state's gay marriage ban in a court filing, arguing that gay marriage is not a “fundamental right.”

In 2005, Texas voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriages and civil unions. The measure also prevents the recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states.

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