The Texas Supreme Court is currently hearing two consolidated appeals to determine whether same-sex couples, who are currently not allowed to marry in Texas, can nevertheless obtain a divorce in the state if they were legally married elsewhere. Both of the couples involved were legally married in Massachusetts. The Court is examining whether the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down as unconstitutional a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) effectively mandates that the state allow such divorces.
The Texas Attorney General argues that same-sex divorce is not required by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In court filings, the attorney general states that the decision does not mandate states that bar same sex marriages recognize the legality of such marriages entered into in other states. The cases before the Texas Supreme Court involve a lesbian couple who filed for divorce in Travis County, Texas, and who were granted a divorce by a judge there, and a male gay couple from Dallas, Texas, who are currently seeking a Texas divorce.
Attorneys representing the Dallas gay couple have argued that if current Texas state law denies divorces to same-sex couples legally married in other states, then Texas state law is unconstitutional and a violation of the equal protection of the laws under the reasoning of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the DOMA case.
They further assert that denying gay or lesbian married couples Texas divorces amounts to treating them as second class citizens by denying them rights granted to all other married couples in the state. They are asking the Texas Supreme Court either rule that Texas law does allow courts to grant same-sex couples married in other states legal divorces, or that Texas state law barring such divorces is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution.
This is likely the first of many such cases across the country in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages. If you are seeking a same-sex divorce, consult a family law attorney to determine what your rights and options are.
Source: Dallas Voice.com, “Greg Abbott argues DOMA decision doesn’t allow gay divorce in TX” No author given, Jul. 19, 2013