John M. Becker

5th Circuit Fast-Tracks Texas, Louisiana Marriage Cases

Filed By John M. Becker | October 08, 2014 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, gay marriage, Louisiana, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, Texas

fifth-circuit-building.jpgThe Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to fast-track its review of two district court rulings -- one striking down Texas's marriage discrimination amendment, the other upholding a similar ban in Louisiana. According to the San Antonio Express-News, oral arguments are now likely to take place before the end of the year.

On Tuesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans agreed to expedite oral arguments in the [Texas] case. The request came on Monday from Cleopatra DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman, one of two gay couples challenging the state ban. Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss are also appellees on the case.

Dimetman is pregnant with the couple's second child due next year, and under current law, only she would immediately be recognized as the child's legal parent. When DeLeon bore the couple's first child, now 4, Dimetman formally adopted the baby to ensure both women would have parental rights. The process was expensive, burdensome and filled with uncertainty, they said earlier this week, and one they hope to avoid with a 5th Circuit win before their child is due on March 15.

"That process takes time, and of course they would do the same here if necessary," said Barry Chasnoff, one of the attorneys for the two couples. "The concern is if something were to happen to Nicole after the baby is born, but before an adoption, then Cleo would not have parental rights."

The report adds that the 5th Circuit agreed to have the same three-judge panel hear Louisiana's case on the same day as Texas's.

This development is especially significant because the Fifth Circuit, which covers Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, is one of the most conservative appeals court circuits in the country. Many court-watchers think the Fifth is even more likely than the Sixth Circuit to issue a ruling that upholds constitutional bans on marriage equality. Such a decision would create a circuit split, which the Supreme Court has suggested is necessary in order for it to wade in and settle the issue decisively.

h/t: Joe. My. God.

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