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Gay man who sued his state for the right to marry is now running for its Senate

Jess Glass December 22, 2017
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(Photo: Creative Commons)

A man who sued his state for his right to marry his partner is now making a bid for the Texan senate.

Mark Phariss, a lawyer from Dallas, announced his intention to run in the election for the Texas State Senate earlier this month.

Phariss made headlines in 2014 for being one of four people who sued the state of Texas after the state banned same-sex marriage in the state in 2013.

Speaking to the Dallas News earlier this week, Phariss said: “When I was accepting the fact that I was gay, there were two things I kind of thought I had to give up: one, getting married, and two, running for political office,”

“I need to quit assuming what people will think. I need to allow them the choice.”

Phariss will run as a Democrat in next year’s election for the Texas Senate seat for the 8th District. Another Democrat, Brian Chaput, has also announced his candidacy for the seat.

Phariss has said that he was inspired to run for the seat in the traditionally Republican state Senate after surprise Democratic victories such as Doug Jones’ defeat of virulent homophobe Roy Moore and Danica Roem’s recent victory in Virginia.

BIRMINGHAM, AL - DECEMBER 12: Democratic U.S. Senator elect Doug Jones (L) and wife Louise Jones (R) greet supporters during his election night gathering the Sheraton Hotel on December 12, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. Doug Jones defeated his republican challenger Roy Moore to claim Alabama's U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by attorney general Jeff Sessions. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Doug Jones celebrates after winning the Alabama senate seat (Getty)

The state ban on same-sex marriage was ruled as unconstitutional in February 2014, however, Judge Garcia kept the ban in place in order to allow the state’s Attorney General to appeal the ban’s removal.

US District Judge Orlando Garcia cited the Supreme Court’s 2013 strike-down of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8 in his decision to rule the Texan ban unconstitutional.

Former Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott

Attorney General Greg Abbott was accused of deliberately stalling his appeal to postpone the marriages for as long as possible – requesting multiple extensions to legal deadlines because his legal briefs were “not ready”.

During this appeal time, Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes and Nicole Dimetman and Cleopatra De Leon called on Judge Garcia to lift the stay.

This suit was still in progress when the US Supreme Court struck down all such state bans on same-sex marriage in June 2015.

Phariss and Holmes married shortly after the ban was removed, after an 18-year-relationship.

The lawyer addressed the potential for homophobic backlash during the campaign but was firm in his intentions.

He said: “I’m absolutely gay. There is no way to hide that.

“But I’m running as a Texan, and I will absolutely represent every constituent in my district if I win. So even those who vote against me — even those who vote against me because I’m gay, I will want to listen to them and represent them.”

Phariss continued: “Our marriage equality case was all about saying we are just like everyone else.”

More: banning gay marriage, marriage equality, state senate, US

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