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Lawyers Ask Fed Court for Gay-Marriage Green Light in Texas

Lawyers on Monday asked a federal court to lift a stay on same-sex marriage in Texas, saying recent Supreme Court orders permitting gay nuptials in more than a dozen states shows how the “constitutional environment” has changed “radically and permanently” on the issue.

A U.S. District Court Judge in San Antonio struck down the Lone Star state’s gay marriage ban in late February but imposed a stay pending state appeal. That appeal is to be heard on Jan. 9 by the 5th Circuit.

But attorneys for the two gay couples who brought the lawsuit argued that the district court should let same-sex couples in Texas wed following the Supreme Court’s decision in October not to hear challenges to gay marriage encompassing 11 states. Since then, the justices have rejected leaving stays on gay marriage in place in a few other states.

The circumstances that existed when the Texas court imposed the stay “no longer exist,” lawyers for the couples said in a filing.

“Moreover, more recent decisions lifting and denying stays establish that there is no need to prevent gay men and lesbians from marrying pending the outcome of appeals from decisions striking down unconstitutional state laws. Accordingly, this court should follow the Supreme Court’s lead and lift the stay it previously imposed.”

Three federal circuit courts of appeal have ruled in favor of same-sex nuptials this year, but the 6th Circuit ruled against it in early November -- posing a legal conflict that experts believe will force the Supreme Court to make a definitive ruling on gay marriage.

Thirty-five states plus the District of Columbia now allow gays and lesbians to wed.

IN-DEPTH

— Miranda Leitsinger