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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


“That would be a very hard decision, we are both very, very tied to Texas,” said Dimetman. The entrepreneur and marketing consultant was born and raised in San Antonio and attended Keystone through elementary and high school. After grad school on the East Coast, she enrolled at the University of Texas—Austin Law School. While she and her partner remain there, Dimetman’s entire family resides in SA.

“I honestly don’t know what we would decide, I don’t even want to think about it,” she said.

De Leon can attest to even deeper roots in Texas. Her family’s lineage in the state dates back to the 1600s. In fact, De Leon says the Tejano monument statue on the grounds of the Texas Capitol that depicts one of the pioneer explorers of the state, General Alonzo De Leon, is a tribute to her ancestry.

“We were already forced to marry out of state, the law forced Nicole to adopt our child—I would have to be forced to leave my home,” said De Leon, of a Texas exodus.

Dimetman shared her partner’s sentiments, saying, “One of the reasons we are doing this is to fight for our rights in Texas. We are determined to stay here, be Texans and be treated like every other Texas family.”

For military veterans De Leon (10 years in service) and Holmes (23 years, he retired just a week shy of the full repeal of the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell policy”) feeling unaccepted by their state leaders carries a particularly painful sting.

Texas governor Rick Perry has cultivated an unwelcoming environment for the gay community, including gay veterans. For instance, in 2012, Perry televised his opposition to gay rights in a presidential campaign ad bashing the repeal of DADT. “You know there is something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school,” Perry said in the ad.

In 2005, Perry ceremonially signed the constitutional amendment further outlawing same-sex marriage at Calvary Christian Academy in Fort Worth. When a reporter asked Perry what he would say to gay and lesbian military veterans who wished to marry and live in Texas, he responded, “Texas has made a decision on marriage, and if there’s a state with more lenient views than Texas, then maybe that’s where they should live.”

“He’s right in the sense that some people in Texas have made the decision, but not all people have,” said Holmes in reference to Perry’s self-deportation comments. “A few people make the choice and everyone else is just living with it.”

“What he says defines the individual, not the state,” Holmes continued. “I love Texas. I’ve been to other states and countries and this is the place where I want to live. I don’t see why I have to go somewhere else.”

 

Texas isn't the only state facing legal challenges from same-sex couples seeking marriage equality. Read this story from our sister paper, the Orlando Weekly, about the six couples suing Florida for the right to marry in their state.

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