Status: Constitutional ban on marriage for same-sex couples has been declared unconstitutional by a federal court, but that ruling is stayed pending an appeal to the Fifth Circuit.
DeLeon v. Perry
In DeLeon v. Perry, two same-sex couples, represented by private counsel, are challenging Texas’ marriage ban in federal court. The plaintiffs, Mark Phariss & Vic Holmes and Cleopatra De Leon & Nicole Dimetman, argue that the state's ban on same-sex marriage violates their rights to due process and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution, in addition to the Full Faith and Credit Clause. In February 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia ruled Texas' ban is unconstitutional and stayed his decision pending an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Marriage of J.B. and H.B & State of Texas v. Naylor and Daly
In two cases, In re Marriage of J.B. and H.B. and State of Texas v. Naylor and Daly, same-sex couples represented by private counsel are seeking to dissolve their Massachusetts marriages in state court. In January 2009, a trial court granted a divorce in J.B. and H.B., but this ruling was overturned by an intermediate appellate court in August 2010, which concluded that Texas' marriage ban bars courts from recognizing out-of-state marriages. Similarly, in February 2010, a trial judge agreed to dissolve a marriage in Naylor and Daly, but that decision was overturned by an appeals court in January 2011. Both cases are now pending before the Texas Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in November 2013. A decision is expected at any time.
McNosky v. Perry and Zahrn v. Perry
In McNosky v. Perry, plaintiffs Christopher Daniel McNosky and Sven Stricker were denied a marriage license in Fort Worth, Texas and filed a complaint in federal court in July 2013 challenging Texas’ marriage ban. Zahrn v. Perry is a class-action lawsuit filed by Austin lawyers on behalf of two plaintiff couples -- Shannon Zahrn, Catherine Zahrn, Andrew Simpson and Alexius Augustine -- seeking marriage equality for all same-sex couples in the Lone Star State. A request that McNosky and Zahrn be joined with the DeLeon case was denied in January 2014.
Freeman v. Parker
Three City of Houston employees filed a lawsuit against Houston Mayor Annise Parker and the City of Houston in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas seeking to preserve spousal benefits for their same-sex spouses. Freeman v. Parker was filed after the employees received notifications that the City would be rescinding these benefits only one month after extending the coverage to their spouses.
On November 20, 2013, Mayor Parker – herself one of the most prominent openly LGBT mayors in the nation -- had announced that all married City employees, including same-sex couples married in jurisdictions where their marriages were legal, would be eligible to enroll for spousal benefits under Houston’s employee compensation plan. Shortly after the three plaintiffs named in Lambda Legal’s lawsuit enrolled their spouses, two Houston taxpayers sued the Mayor and the City in Family Law Court alleging that spousal benefits for same-sex couples were illegal and secured a temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking extension of the benefits. The City of Houston is engaged in separate proceedings to fight the taxpayers’ charge.