Columbia Law School Clinic Argues for Marriage Equality in Texas

Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic Files Amicus Brief in U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Challenging Marriage Restrictions on Gay Couples

New York, September 16, 2014—Texas marriage laws violate the constitutional rights of lesbians and gay men to marry the person of their choice and to have that marriage recognized, Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic argues in an amicus brief filed today with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. 

In the brief filed in De Leon v. Perry, Columbia Law School Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg argues that the U.S. Constitution’s due process and equal protection guarantee have long been understood to protect against government interference in fundamental personal decision making, including the choice of one’s spouse. In fact, Texas imposes few restrictions on the choices of married couples but nevertheless prohibits people from choosing a spouse of the same sex.
“The bars on individuals from choosing a same-sex marital partner thus exist in sharp contrast to the state’s otherwise pervasive respect for marital freedom of choice,” writes Goldberg, director of the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic. “In doing so, they infringe the Constitution’s long-settled protection against state interference in deeply personal decisions related to family life.”
Goldberg’s clinic, founded in 2006, has filed amicus briefs in numerous cases challenging state bans on marriage rights for same-sex couples in the wake of the 2013 U.S. v. Windsor decision striking down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act barring recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages.
“Courts around the country have affirmed, repeatedly, that governments may not ban same-sex couples from marrying,” said Goldberg. “Texas’s ban defies a longstanding American tradition that governments allow people to choose their spouses, for better or worse. By defying this tradition and restricting spousal choice, the ban directly injures many Texan families.”
Columbia Law School students Logan J. Gowdey ’16 and Sara E. Mac Dougall ’16 assisted with research for and preparation of the brief.