Marriage Inconvenience

Texas Forces Same-Sex Couple Seeking Divorce To Remain Married

Texas won’t recognize your marriage. But once you are married, it won’t let end it either. That’s the problem facing a gay couple who were legally wed in Massachusetts and now live in Texas. The pair, known in court papers only by the initials J.B. and H.B., have decided to part amicably. The state of Texas, however, won’t let them.

The couple first sought a divorce in 2009, and a family court judge granted them the request. But a three-judge panel of the state appeals court overturned that ruling, saying that the state isn’t about to allow the dissolution of a marriage that it doesn’t allow in the first place. In essence, the state is saying that we don’t recognize your marriage, except when you want out of it. And then we’ll make you stay together.

Normally, divorces are a matter of residency. You can only have a divorce granted in the state in which you live. In order for J.B. and H.B. to get divorced, they would have to move to another state, presumably one where marriage equality is legal. In any other state, particularly one that explicitly bans same-sex marriage, they would potentially face the same problem they have in Texas.

The couple’s case will go before the state Supreme Court in November. The Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott, has weighed in on the case, arguing that “because the Constitution and laws of the state of Texas define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, the court correctly ruled that Texas courts do not have authority to grant a same-sex divorce.”

Ironically, even though Texas doesn’t recognize the couple’s marriage, the federal government does. Until they are divorced, they can file joint tax returns.

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  • Dakotahgeo

    TEXAS… kinda says it all, sometimes! No rhyme or reason, just go blindly forward into mayhem!

  • tardis

    @DickGreenleaf: Here we go with the Stoli boycott. We’re using Stoli as a scapegoat. I have no idea where this idea originated but, in my opinion, it’s completely misguided considering that the company is in full support of the LGBTcommunity. Let it go

  • Ryan26pdx

    Honestly the couple should have considered their marriage’s legal standing before they moved to a state that explicitly bans same sex marriage. Not to mention that Texas will likely be one of the last in the country to eventually legalize it at their state level. The situation sucks, but that’s the way it is until Texas changes. At the moment it makes that Texas wouldn’t approve a divorce for a marriage the state doesn’t legally recognize. As for federal law contradicting state law, that hasn’t been unusual for most of this country’s history. In many instances there is a divide between the two levels to allow for states to tailor laws to their unique characteristics.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @Ryan26pdx: It also needs to be noted that, pending one or two lawsuits against states that do NOT have marriage equality, the outcomes of those lawsuits may well render the states’ laws unconstitutional and moot! The states may not like it, but they WILL be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century. It’s already happened. It’s to laugh, really!

  • GeriHew

    So, let’s say just for argument’s sake, if one of them married someone else of the opposite sex, would the State Of Texas then charge them with bigamy?

  • Joetx


    1. Yeah, let’s blame the couple instead of TX’s draconian laws.

    BTW, laws change WHEN THEY ARE CHALLENGED! They aren’t challenged if people just retreat to safe havens.

    2. You are simply wrong about the relationship b/t federal laws & state laws. Federal laws supersede state laws. In some cases, federal laws set a baseline that states must meet. They can do better (e.g., Cali’s environmental laws), but they can’t go below.

    The federal government does allow states to make laws in areas where the federal government either does not speak to or is beyond the areas allowed to it under the Constitution.

  • Joetx

    @GeriHew: That’s very clever!

  • dvlaries

    There’s gotta be a new state motto somewhere in this lunacy….

  • Dakotahgeo

    @Joetx: Thank you, Joetx!!! Common sense does exist with some of you brave Texans! You are spot on the mark, and said it better than I did!

  • Joetx

    @Dakotahgeo: Sadly, Texans that aren’t ignorant & otherwise stupid are a minority. Just look at the a-holes we elect to public office.

  • DrD83193

    As a gay Texan I can say that this is a complete face palm moment. I wish my state start living by its own matto which is friendship.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @Joetx: Unfortunately, Texas is NOT alone in this dilemma re: elected officials! North Dakota, Kansas, Miser…errr, Missouri, among others still vie for the most knuckle-dragging State in the Union. What stymies me, however, is the great majority of Republicans/TPods that ignorance/arrogance seem to attract! I note that the Tea Party’s Event to end all events today in Washington, DC drew a grand total of 50-100 (????) prize heifers… now THAT’S GOT to be embarrassing?! Especially when they were expecting 5,000+ ! How does one take these Jackalopes seriously?! And they expect to win elections?! Unh huh!!! Okay.

  • Joetx

    @Dakotahgeo: You’re right. We can’t claim the likes of Michele Bachmann, Steve King, etc. And ignorance & general stupidity isn’t confined to TX.

    We might have the highest levels of ignorance & general stupidity, per capita, though. Yippee!

    It’s pretty simple how these a-holes get elected: scare the majority, by appealing to their base racism, xenophobia, homophobia, etc. Add in a mainstream, corporate media that isn’t the least bit concerned w/ educating the public (& in cases like Faux News, ACTIVELY MISLEADING the public), & voila! Widespread knuckle-dragging w/ politicians to match!

    The U.S. should not be taking up the mantle of freedom & democracy.

  • Horse Lips

    The state I live in and its elected officials embarrass me on a daily basis.

  • KSgm62

    What exactly is the point of getting married if you’re just going to turn around and get divorced? When they wed, did they promise “in sickness and in health” and “til death do us part” and all that stuff, or did their vows go something like “til one of us gets sick of being with the other one or one of us finds someone hotter.” As far as I am concerned, gay people should not be wanting marriage if they are not willing to actually stay married and the Christian right should not be defending the “marriage is between a man and a woman” agenda unless they are ready to clean up the mess that is modern marriage.

  • GeriHew

    @KSgm62: Most people don’t expect to get divorced when they get married. But sometimes relationships fail to endure.

    Equal marriage rights for same sex couples has to include the right to divorce if it becomes necessary to do so.

Comments are closed.