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What Does the Supreme Court Punting on Same-Sex Marriage Mean For Texas?

Tyler Pratt/KUT
A challenge to Texas' gay marriage ban is still tied up in a federal appellate court and was largely unaffected by the Supreme Court's inaction.

It’s a big day for supporters of same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to take up the issue this year, which means same-sex marriages can continue in five states that currently ban the practice.

But where does that leave Texas? 

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision against weighing in on same-sex marriage means it will soon be legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia. 

But, in Texas, the marriages will not be allowed. A federal district judge ruled earlier this year that the Texas constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman relegates same-sex couples to second-class citizenship. But the judge also allowed the ban on same-sex marriages to continue while the case winds through the appeals process.

Attorneys for same-sex couples in Austin and Dallas have filed a request to expedite their case with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Attorneys say that's because the Austin couple, Nicole Dimetman and Cleo de Leon, are expecting a second child, and the case’s outcome will determine whether De Leon will legally be the child’s parent.

“She and Cleo would like their child to be born into a marriage that’s recognized by the State of Texas, like opposite-sex couples,” says lead attorney Neel Lane. “But more importantly, they’ve always recognized that they are fighting for the rights of gay and lesbian citizens all over Texas.”

De Leon fears she won’t be allowed to make any decisions regarding the child if there are complications with the birth, as there were with the delivery of their first child.

While this week's move by the U.S. Supreme Court has no direct affect on the case before the 5th Circuit Court, Lane says it's not insignificant.

“It won’t be lost on the 5th Circuit that the vast majority of United States citizens now live in states that have marriage equality.”

He says Texas is now the largest state without marriage equality. He hopes to make oral arguments as soon as next month.

Trey Shaar is an All Things Considered producer, reporter and host. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @treyshaar.
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