Most Influential 2015: Neel Lane

Attorney Neel Lane, center, with the Texas marriage-equality plaintiffs. Photo by Lauren McGaughy

In February 2014, Neel Lane, along with litigation partner Barry Chasnoff, led a team from the San Antonio office of Akin Gump on behalf of clients Nicole Dimetman and Cleopatra De Leon and Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss. The two couples were seeking a preliminary injunction to bar Texas from enforcing its same-sex marriage ban. Two weeks later, Judge Orlando L. Garcia of the United States District Court declared Texas’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

The State of Texas appealed Garcia’s decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans. The case was heard in February 2015 with Lane and his team there to argue the case.

The Fifth Circuit never issued their ruling because in the interim the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that states are required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex marriages lawfully licensed out-of-state.

Speaking at a press conference in Austin on June 26, the day of the Supreme Court’s decision, Lane said, “Today is a wonderful day in America. The Supreme Court of the United States recognized that marriage is a fundamental right for every citizen regardless of sexual orientation, that everyone has a right to access that institution.”



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