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Meet the SA-tied Couples Suing Texas for Marriage Equality

Photo: Courtesy Photos, License: N/A

Courtesy Photos

Avid travelers Vic Holmes (left) and Mark Phariss(right) visiting Antartica in 2013

Photo: , License: N/A

Cleopatra De Leon (left) and her spouse Nicole Dimetman

Nevertheless, the rulings signal a shift in the judicial sphere when it comes to marriage equality, albeit incremental.

“We’re seeing even in red states, like Utah and Oklahoma, that these judges are in fact ruling that laws predicated on animosity toward gay people violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. I think it’s entirely possible and I am hopeful a similar ruling may be found in [the De Leon] case,” said Smith.

Lane described the Utah and Oklahoma cases as “very analogous” to what could happen in Texas, since the suits similarly took on a state constitutional amendment. The case he’s trying, Neel said, is “unprecedented” in Texas—while other suits have been filed, this is the first to challenge the same-sex marriage ban on the grounds of a violation to the equal protection law. Lane and the plaintiffs will ask for a preliminary injunction from U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in February; from there it can move in a myriad of directions.

Succeeded by his sister-in-law state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, Garcia served as a San Antonio Democrat in the Texas House from 1983-1991. A Clinton appointee, he generated censure from GOP circles for siding with the Department of Justice in the Texas redistricting case and against Attorney General Greg Abbott and Governor Rick Perry, both named defendants in the marriage equality suit. His latest move in the case doesn’t bode well for Abbott, either. Garcia denied the AG’s request to transfer the suit to an Austin court led by a George H.W. Bush appointee (where two other marriage equality cases are being tried). He struck the proposal down, calling it neither “appropriate or necessary.” While the cases share a common issue, they “differ in important respects,” Garcia wrote.

“We are committed to pursuing the case, all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary,” said Lane.

“If we don’t have to, we’ll open the Champagne, pop our corks and celebrate; that’s fine by us,” he added. “But if so, we are committed to going all the way.”


Home Is Where The Inequality Is

Optimistic about their victory, the couples hope they will be able to stay in Texas and have their marriages validated. However, an unsuccessful case may force them to move elsewhere—a notion neither party wishes to entertain.

Texas—and San Antonio—holds major significance to both couples. They both met in SA, they both lived and dated each other here and now the case they are championing is being challenged in the Alamo City.

Phariss and Holmes gush about their adoration for San Antonio, visiting close friends any chance they can. “We love San Antonio–it’s a great city and very welcoming,” said Phariss, who participated in several organizations during his 17 years here. (He was recently asked to jump back on the board of one of them—the San Antonio Sports Endowment, TeamSA.)

As for Dimetman and her partner— leaving the state is far from their ideal vision.

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