divorce court

Texas AG Gregory Abbott Prevails: State Won’t Recognize Gay Marriages Long Enough to Grant Divorces


Homosexuals in Texas cannot marry, but for a nearly a year they had high hopes they could get divorced. Until today, when a federal appeals court in Dallas overturned October’s ruling that said Jeffrey and Henry Buck’s marriage of two years could be ended in a Texas court under the 14th Amendment.

The couple married in Massachusetts in 2006 before returning to Dallas, where Jeffrey filed for divorce — in a state that doesn’t recognize his marriage. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has been all over this one, trying to keep a gay divorce case out of Texas courts, and it’s finally paid off.

[T]oday, the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas reversed that decision and ordered Callahan to dismiss the case. Same-sex marriages or civil unions are prohibited by a voter-approved amendment to the state Constitution and the Texas Family Code. The appeals court said today that the trial court had wrongly ruled that those provisions violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Additionally, Justice Kerry P. Fitzgerald wrote in the decision: “We hold that Texas district courts do not have subject-matter jurisdiction to hear a same-sex divorce case.”

And unless the Bucks appeal, so ends their attempt to establish same-sex divorce precedent in a state where they absolutely didn’t want to become gay rights advocates. In fact, Jeffrey’s attorney Jody Scheske argued all along that Texas should grant the divorce because it would be one fewer same-sex marriage in the state.

So the Bucks remain married, just not in the eyes of Texas.

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  • Steve

    So if they don’t let them get divorced, doesn’t that mean they have to recognize the relationship that they are preventing from being ended?

  • Dave

    This is actually probably good news in the big picture.

    If Perry prevails at the 9th circuit, it’s possible the SCOTUS might elect not to hear it so as to avoid establishing a national rule prematurely. But now that there’s a contrary case on the same question (does the 14th Amendment compel states to recognize same-sex marriage?), the Supreme Court is much more likely to hear Perry on appeal from the 9th Circuit as there’s a “split in the circuits”.

    Same-sex marriage was never going to win in the 5th circuit anyway because, well, it’s the 5th circuit. But the split in the circuits gives us a much better chance that Perry will reach the Supreme Court.

  • Dave

    @Steve: Nope. They’re refusing to recognize that the relationship exists at all, and therefore there’s nothing to dissolve. It’s not like they’re still married; it’s like they were never married.

  • John

    The Court which issued the ruling is NOT a federal appeals court as this article states but rather a state court…the Texas Court of Appeals for the 5th District.

  • Joe

    Its not a FEDERAL court. Its a state court.

  • daleandersen

    You got it wrong, Dave. They recognize Adam and Steve’s marriage. They’re just making them live lives of quiet desperation, like the rest of us. Poetic justice, when you think about it…

  • bob

    Those ignorant, backward, r*dneck bigots in Texas are even dumber than they are hateful. The repulsive activist appellate judges in Texas obviously based their ruling on their own deviant views instead of on the laws and Constitution. And it is patently unfair that Gay Americans and their loved ones should suffer the effects of discrimination while the bigots and their loved ones go about their lives as if nothing is wrong. Anyone coming into contact with Greg Abbott, Kerry Fitzgerald, Robert M. Fillmore, David Bridges, or their loved ones, SHOULD TAKE ANY ACTION POSSIBLE TO H*RM THEM. Maybe when the bigots start paying a high price for their discriminatory actions, they’ll think twice before committing the same crimes in the future.

  • Michael Ejercito


    Technically, it is a split between the Ninth Circuit and the Texas Supreme Court.

    There is also a pending federal district court case in Oklahoma; it is actually older than the Perry case.

  • Jaroslaw

    I won’t pretend to be a lawyer, but I did type up a lot of decisions when I worked at a law firm. As unpleasant and unfair as it may be to ponder, if SSM isn’t recognized in Texas, I don’t see how they can “legally” divorce someone. Doesn’t that make sense?

  • Jaroslaw

    PS I’m not overlooking the fact Texas is full of bigoted rednecks.

Comments are closed.