Wolfson.Evan_De Leon v. Perry plaintiffs will be among those in attendance at Austin event

JAMES RUSSELL  |  Staff Writer

The new Texas for Marriage coalition will host a town hall to discuss what’s next for marriage equality in the Lone Star State and across the nation at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 15, in the George and Alice Brown Conference Room in the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, 2313 Red River St., Austin.

The event is free and open to the public.

The forum comes less than a month before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear arguments, on Jan. 9 in New Orleans, in same-sex marriage cases from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Speakers will include Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry; Mark McKinnon, media adviser to President George W. Bush and Texas chair of Freedom to Marry; and Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, plaintiffs in De Leon v. Perry, Texas’ federal marriage case.

“Texas families and employers have been left behind — and the discrimination in Texas is causing them real hardship and unfairness. With the 5th Circuit about to hear arguments in another set of marriage cases, most of which have resulted in freedom to marry wins, the Texas for Marriage campaign is calling on supporters to continue creating the climate that encourages the courts and state officials to bring this discrimination to an end without delay,” Wolfson said.

In February, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled the Texas ban is unconstitutional, but he put a stay on his order while the state appealed. LGBT groups are calling on Garcia to lift the stay, which would allow same-sex couples to marry immediately in Texas.

Should Orlando lift his stay, the conservative 5th Circuit is likely to place a new stay on the ruling until it hears the case.

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year refused to hear appeals on cases from other states in which marriage bans were overturned, and the number of marriage equality states has increased from 19 to 35 since Garcia’s ruling.

Texas is one of 15 states that still bans same-sex marriage. According to a 2010 Census analysis by LGBT policy think tank The Williams Institute, 46,401 same-sex couples are living in Texas, representing 5.2 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 12, 2014