Federal judge to hear couple's challenge to Texas gay marriage ban



KENS 5 San Antonio

Posted on February 12, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 12 at 3:04 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- The night before the hearing, Karen Grace, a reporter with WFAA sister station KENS, sat down with a San Antonio same-sex couple who are suing the state to strike down the gay marriage ban.

"It was love at first sight for me," said Mark Phariss.

Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes want to get married. But last October, when they applied for a marriage license from the Bexar County clerk, they say the county clerk's office refused to issue a marriage license because Holmes and Phariss are both men.

"She said, 'You're kidding, right?'" Phariss said. "We said, 'Uh, no.' So she essentially said, 'We don't do that in Texas.'"

Now they are one of two Texas couples suing the state to strike down the gay marriage ban.

Phariss and Holmes will head to Federal Court in San Antonio on Wednesday morning seeking an injunction to stop Texas from enforcing the state's same-sex marriage ban. They argue the law violates the United States Constitution.

"There's a dramatic change just since the constitutional ban was passed in 2005," Phariss said.

Gov. Rick Perry continues to back the ban, and state Attorney General Greg Abbott has vowed to defend the ban, as with the case of any state law challenged in court.

Supporters of the state's ban on same-sex marriage are expected to be at Wednesday's hearing in San Antonio, including Jonathan Saenz,  president of Texas Values.

"The question here is why are people continuing to try to redefine marriage when in the state of Texas, the law has been very clear for years and historically has been very clear that marriage is defined as one way, between one man and one woman," Saenz said.

But Holmes disagreed with thte definition.

"Traditional marriage is about two people who love each other, and gender really doesn't make that much of a difference," Holmes said.