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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Texas AG Opposing Gay Divorce

The unfortunate counterpart to gay marriage, unfortunately, will sometimes be gay divorce.  With conflicting legal frameworks for the recognition (or otherwise) of same sex marriages around the US and the world, there are bound to be conflicts arising around applications for divorce filed in jurisdictions where same sex marriage is not recognised.  In Texas, alarm bells started ringing for the opponents of marriage equality when judges in Austin and in Dallas separately approved two applications for divorce.  The obvious fear (to our opponents) is that if divorce is recognised, marriage may follow - at least in terms of the law. The problem for them is that in granting the divorce last October, the judge in the case ruled that the state's  ban on gay marriage was in violation of the US constitutional provision for equal protection under the law. If the divorce judgement is allowed to stand, it paves the way for a substantial legal challenge tot he marriage ban. This is why, inevitably, the Texas AG is appealing the judges' decisions. (It is not entirely co-incidental that the man is also up for re-election this fall.) Headlines around the story though, have been misleading, suggesting that (gay) divorce is at present not possible in Texas.  However, unless there are peculiarities in Texas law that I fail to appreciate, that is not correct.  The precedent of two separate judges' rulings is that divorce is indeed possible. It is to change the current position that the AG is appealing, not to protect it.  

From Associated Press:    

Divorce dilemma: Texas says gays can't get divorce

 DALLAS — After the joy of a wedding and the adoption of a baby came arguments that couldn't be resolved, leading Angelique Naylor to file for divorce. That left her fighting both the woman she married in Massachusetts and the state of Texas, which says a union granted in a state where same-sex marriage is legal can't be dissolved with a divorce in a state where it's not.
A judge in Austin granted the divorce, but Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is appealing the decision. He also is appealing a divorce granted to a gay couple in Dallas, saying protecting the "traditional definition of marriage" means doing the same for divorce.
A state appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments in the Dallas case on Wednesday.
The Dallas men, who declined to be interviewed for this story and are known only as J.B. and H.B. in court filings, had an amicable separation, with no disputes on separation of property and no children involved, said attorney Peter Schulte, who represents J.B. The couple, who married in 2006 in Massachusetts and separated two years later, simply want an official divorce, Schulte said.
 (Read the full report)

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