Same-Sex Divorce Faces Hurdles in Texas

Aug 8, 2012 by

It was only a matter of time. Now that gay marriages have been recognized in a handful of states, the next logical hurdle would be gay divorce. However, it seems the laws in one state can create confusion in another. The question of whether or not a person married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal can get a legal divorce in a state where it’s not is currently headed for an appellate court in Texas.

Angelique Naylor filed for divorce from the woman she married in Massachusetts and a judge in Austin granted the divorce, but Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has appealed the decision. He also is appealing a divorce granted to a gay couple in Dallas on the basis that protecting the traditional definition of marriage means doing the same for divorce.

That case involves two gay men who married each other in Massachusetts in 2006 and are seeking a divorce in Texas. It is expected that State attorneys will argue to the Court of Appeals that the divorce should not take place in Texas. It will be the first time a same-sex divorce case has been appealed to a higher court in the state. Some legal observers think it could go all the way up to the Texas Supreme Court before a ruling is reached. Whatever ruling does eventually come down is likely to be precedent setting.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the two men can’t be divorced in Texas because they are asking a Texas court to both recognize and terminate something that does not legally exist in the state and challenges the Texas Constitution. Abbott says he will intervene to defend Texas law and the mandate of Texas voters who approved a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex civil unions and gay marriage in 2005.

The Texas courts are not the only place experiencing problems interpreting the different state laws. Pennsylvania has refused to grant homosexual divorces on grounds similar to those in Texas, and New York does not recognize homosexual marriages but has granted divorces to same sex couples.


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