Two women were legally married in Washington D.C. in 2010, but their Texas divorce is on hold while the state’s court system determines whether they’re legally allowed to get divorced.
The plaintiff in the case started the divorce process by filing in February. She also asked for joint custody of the couple’s child. The other woman in the case, the defendant, gave birth in February 2013 after becoming pregnant through artificial insemination.
The defendant asked that the case should be dismissed. At the heart of her argument was the fact that Texas bans same-sex marriages and does not recognize the women’s marriage.
In April, a district judge ruled that the divorce case should continue. The judge determined that Texas’ gay marriage was unconstitutional and that the couple should have the right to divorce.
Months before, in February, another judge ruled that Texas’ ban was unconstitutional. The judge, a U.S. district judge, determined that the ban degrades a gay person’s dignity and classifies him or her as a lesser citizen.
However, the state attorney general disagreed. He instead asked for an emergency stay to delay the couple’s divorce proceedings. Granting the divorce would allow others to interpret the ruling “as authorization for the creation or recognition of same-sex marriages in Bexar County or throughout the state.” The attorney general also appealed the U.S. district judge’s earlier ruling.
The case is currently before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
With same-sex marriages legal in some states and banned in others, it’s likely that similar cases will appear throughout the country. These situations can be made even more complicated when children, custody and child support are involved, especially if the child is only biologically related to one parent. One thing is certain, other states and courts will be watching to see how Texas handles this same-sex divorce.
Source: American-Statesman, “Texas appeals court halts ruling in gay-divorce case” Chuck Lindell, Apr. 24, 2014