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Abilene gay marriage supporters react to Texas court ruling on gay marriage ban

By Jennifer Kendall, jkendall@ktxs.com
Published On: Feb 26 2014 09:14:32 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 27 2014 11:00:18 AM CST
ABILENE, Texas -

In a big move Wednesday, San Antonio Federal Judge Orlando Garcia ruled the state's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

That means Texas joins Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Utah where judges have recently ruled that gay marriage bans violate the U.S. Constitution.

Some Abilene supporters of gay marriage said this is a big step in the right direction.

"We deserve the right to be with the person we love and to have that right protected," said Rev. Margaret Walker, who married her partner in Canada in 2005.

Walker was ecstatic to hear that a Texas judge issued a preliminary injunction on Texas' gay marriage ban.

"I am so excited I can't even breathe," Walker said.  

Walker said after decades with her partner Monica, it hasn't gotten any easier knowing their relationship goes unrecognized in her home state.

"In the state of Texas, even though I've been married to my partner for almost 10 years and I have been with my partner in a committed relationship for 22 years, under the laws of the state of Texas, we are legal strangers. It makes us feel like we're second-class citizens," said Walker.

This latest ruling doesn't legalize gay marriage in the Lone Star State.

"Does this mean that people can go running out and get married today, same-sex couples in Texas? No," said Dr. Paul Fabrizio, political science professor at McMurry University. "The judge in issuing the ruling said this is subject to appeal."  

It could, however, increase the likelihood that the U.S. Supreme Court will have to make a decision regarding gay marriage - and soon.

"Since you've got all the states moving in the same direction, all these courts, it's probably going to take place within the next two years that the Supreme Court will have to make a ruling," Fabrizio said.  

Recent rulings by the high court, including one that rejected parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, were cited as the reason for the ruling Wednesday.

"Which increases the likelihood that the Supreme Court probably will okay gay marriage nationwide or at least in the opposite sense say you can't ban gay marriage," said Fabrizio.  

Gov. Rick Perry is not happy about the ruling. He released a statement that reads, "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 ..."

Walker said gay couples deserve the same rights as straight couples.

"We know that as they say history is on our side but we know what's right and what's right according to the constitution," Walker said.

In 2005 Texas became the 19th state to adopt a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. On the other hand, 17 states allow legal unions of gay couples.