AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) - A probate judge in Travis County has ruled that the Texas ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
Judge Guy Herman issued the ruling Tuesday in an estate case. His decision said the ban violates due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir commended Judge Herman for his court order, but said she will not issue marriage licenses, because she has not been ordered to do so.
Calling the ruling "a great step toward marriage equality" DeBeauvoir released a statement that said, in part --
"In his order, Judge Herman did not instruct the County Clerk to begin to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. The Travis County Attorney's office is examining the order as well as the status of the current federal litigation related to marriage equality at the Fifth Circuit and in the Supreme Court.
Because of all of these factors, the County Clerk is not issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples at the present time."
The Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, but a stay was issued as the case was appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. A decision from that court is expected later this year.
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia.
Tuesday night CBS 11 caught up with Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes of Dallas who are planning a wedding.
"I have 99.9% confidence that we will get married this year," says Phariss. "You see court after court after court ruling that the bans are unconstitutional."
Family law attorney Michelle O'Neill says the ruling will have no immediate effect on couples waiting for the right to marry.
"I think it's going to take either the 5th Circuit or maybe even the Supreme Court to rule on the overarching issue before it's really going to be a meaningful decision," says O'Neill.
Phariss says it tells him and and Holmes are on the right track and to keep working on the guest list.
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