“Discrimination against gays and lesbians is really the last area in which state government openly discriminates against its citizens,” says an attorney for two women in Texas’ 3rd Court of Appeals. A state attorney representing the Attorney General Greg Abbott is challenging a judge’s ruling made earlier this year that granted a lesbian couple a divorce.
As we have mentioned before on this blog, currently, Texas law does not recognize same-sex marriage. For the most part, and definitely in the opinion of Abbott, because gay marriage isn’t recognized, it is wrong to recognize gay divorce as a Texas option. When a judge granted the women a divorce in Feb., argues Abbot, he overstepped his legal authority.
The Travis County ruling was appealed, and now the case is before an appeals court. Arguments began this week, wherein the state attorney expressed his belief that the judge’s ruling and if it is upheld, would be essentially saying that Texas does recognize same-sex marriage.
A process called voidance is already available to gay couples, with which divorcing parties settle the issue of property division. He asserts that the women in this Texas family law case should have taken and been directed to take that route instead of being granted a standard divorce, which is reserved for heterosexual couples.
The women’s legal representation argues that Abbott has overstepped boundaries himself in this case. According to them, when the judge orally granted the women’s divorce in Feb., that is when the dissolution was final. Because Abbott’s challenge wasn’t articulated until after that announcement, they think he was too late to act.
The state attorney challenges that point and insists that when state laws are violated, such as this individual judge has allegedly done, then it is within his rights and responsibility to challenge that decision to protect the state’s legal system and the desires of its citizens.
We will post an update to this controversial Texas case when this appeals court rules. Sources predict, however, that no matter the decision made by this current court, both sides of this debate are likely to take this issue all the way to the Texas Supreme Court.
American-Statesman: “Court urged to void Travis County gay divorce,” 15 Dec. 2010