Texas AG’s Office Pleas With Federal Appeals Court: Do Not Let This Woman Divorce Her Wife In Our State

In the on-going saga over whether Texas can grant gay couples a divorce when the state doesn’t recognize same-sex unions at all, the state’s attorney general’s office argued before a federal appeals court yesterday that the state should be able to refuse the dissolution of a marriage it doesn’t consider valid. Makes sense, no?

If you’re just joining us, recall that there are actually a few gay divorce cases going on in Texas. There’s Jeffrey and Henry Buck (who married in Massachusetts in 2006), who have been fighting to get Texas to grant them a divorce — something AG Gregory Abbott has been working furiously to keep the courts from granting. The last round, in August, went to Abbot when a federal judge overturned a lower court’s ruling that granted the divorce, effectively keeping the Bucks married. But not married. Confusing! (The Bucks, meanwhile, don’t want to be the posterchildren for gay marriage/divorce.)

And then there are the couples involved in yesterday’s case: Angelique Naylor (pictured) and Sabina Daly, who also married in Massachusetts before moving to Austin (where they met) and adopting a son, who’s now five. Like the Bucks, this lesbian couple wants Texas to formally end their marriage. But James Blacklock, an attorney in Abbott’s office — which also worked to prohibit this divorce, but lost in federal court — says the lower court’s judge ruled improperly, the Statesman reports.

Texas law not only limits marriage to opposite-sex couples, it forbids any action — including divorce — that recognizes or validates a same-sex marriage obtained out of state, said James Blacklock, a lawyer in Attorney General Greg Abbott’s appellate division. He urged the 3rd Court of Appeals to invalidate the divorce. “The people of Texas and their elected representatives have spoken very clearly on the issues of this case: Marriage consists solely of the union of one man and one woman,” Blacklock said during oral arguments.

[…] During Wednesday’s oral arguments, [the couple’s lawyer Jody Scheske] argued Abbott waited too long by intervening after Jenkins had orally granted the divorce. Blacklock, Abbott’s lawyer, argued that the divorce wasn’t final until March, when the “sketchy” agreement read aloud the prior month was fleshed out in writing and signed by Jenkins. “Don’t you concede that final judgment was rendered that day when he said, ‘You are divorced’?” Henson asked. Jones jumped in: “I seem to recall a lot of cases where, if the judge says orally, ‘I grant your divorce,’ you are now divorced — it is effective as of that instant.”

Blacklock disagreed but added that Abbott can intervene anytime a Texas law, such as the same-sex marriage ban, is challenged. “It appears, at least in Travis County, that gay divorces are now legal. That’s why we are in this case,” he said. Texas law, Blacklock added, allows same-sex couples to legally dissolve their union through “voidance,” which divides property and is recognized nationwide. “This case is obviously about more than that,” he said. “This case is about the desire of same-sex couples to have their marriages recognized as law.”

And there’s the rub: It’s not that Blackrock (or his boss Abbott) wants gay couple to be unable to go their miserable ways. They just don’t want them doing so in a way that somehow infringes on the rights of straight couples to do so.

[photo via]

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  • Mike in Asheville

    Regularly we hear that Texan Repugnantans want to sucede from the Union.

    I say kick them the fuck out and sell Texas to Mexico. In one move we get rid of these horrid bigots and solve a major portion of the illegal immigration problem.

  • randy

    Yes, the best way to get same sex marriage recognized is to dissolve it.

    What an idiotic legal argument.

  • jacknasty

    @Randy, if the state legally grants a divorce than it is one step closer to them having to approve same-sex marriage. Because if the state legally gives a divorce they are setting precedent by recognizing in the court system that the marriage existed.

    Personally I want same-sex marriage in all 50 states. However, why is the couple claiming that they don’t want to be “posterchildren for gay marriage and divorce” even filing for divorce? They live in a state where they aren’t legally recognized as being married, where they can’t file taxes as a married couple…ect what would the divorce even get them that they don’t already have?

  • Katie Murphy

    A divorce would get them the right to remarry. It appears based on that and the texas ag that………..

    TX supports gay marriages

    TX os truomg to stop divorces. a plague in our nation, but keeping gay people together.

    TX is at the same time preventing the gay couple, after the split, from legally remarrying someone else. Eg again supporting gay marriage.

    Remember the old nursery rhyme – “oh what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive”

    Applys to the southern talibangelicals so hate filled they cant keep their hate striaght (a pun?)

    And their government – the same.

    yes, maybe we should give TX back to the mexicans and really build an impenetrable border. The mexican criminals would find one reason or another to solve our problem in their own vicious way. Not so terribly different then some of the texans.

    Unfortunately we’d have to first resettle several million people, like the people of Houston who elected a gay woman as manyor. And a number of other things like that which give us hope of a brighter future for TX

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