Under Texas law, a marriage is not legal if it is not a union between a man and a woman. Same-sex marriages are not recognized in the state. That debate has gone on within the state for some time, and voters chose to ban gay marriage in 2005.
Because of the country’s divorce rate, perhaps Texas should have seen it coming, but the new debate revolves around whether married same-sex couples can get a Texas divorce. A Texas court of appeals heard the case of two men who wanted an uncontested divorce after two years of marriage. They were originally married in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriages are recognized.
A lower court previously ruled in this case that Texas law regarding same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, and that since gay couples should have the right to marry in Texas, then they should have every right to seek a Texas divorce.
The office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott challenged the judge’s decision, and the appeals court agreed this week that the lower court overstepped its bounds by recognizing same-sex marriage and the viability of same-sex divorce. The judges suggested that the couple seeking a Texas divorce could merely void their same-sex marriage in order to end it, but that option is not satisfactory.
One of the parties seeking the same-sex divorce, “J.B.”, wants to get a legal divorce because then agreements about spousal support and marital property are legally recognized. Whether his desire for those rights is strong enough for “J.B.” and his attorney to appeal the Texas court’s recent decision is yet to be seen.
The Associated Press: Court says gay couples can’t divorce in Texas (9/1/2010)