A lawsuit by two same-sex couples, one female and one male, challenges the current ban on gay and lesbian marriage in the Texas state Constitution. That constitutional provision, adopted by voters in 2005, defines marriage as limited to those between one man and one woman, and prohibits Texas and local officials from taking actions that would recognize same-sex marriages. This has rapidly become an intense family law issue across the country, with 14 states now recognizing same-sex marriage.
Most people realize that getting married or divorced can have an impact on their finances and property rights. But a lesser known area of family law is that other types of relationships, such as cohabiting, can also have an impact. In Texas, and a small number of other states, common law marriages are recognized and cohabiting together for a period of time may result in being regarded as legally married.
A lesbian couple in McKinney, Texas, has been together for approximately three years. A county judge is now threatening one of them with the loss of custody of her children unless her lover moves out. Under current Texas family law, same sex couples are not allowed to marry. The judge is enforcing a "morality" clause that was placed in the mother's divorce decree from her former husband.