In Texas, You Can't Separate What Isn't Together

Appeal to decision expected

By Eric Kreindler and Frank Heinz
|  Tuesday, Aug 31, 2010  |  Updated 3:17 PM CDT
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In Texas, You Can't Separate What Isn't Together

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Gay Civil Partnership Divorce

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An appeals court ruled Tuesday that Texas District courts do not have jurisdiction to hear a same-sex divorce case because gay marriage isn't recognized in Texas.  (Read the full opinion here.)

In other words, since gay marriage doesn't exist in Texas, Texas can't sign off on a gay divorce.  To do so would recognize that two men were married -- which is a ball of wax the state would prefer to not get into again.  But what if it's a woman and her same-sex transgender partner? Sorry, moving on.

In April, the three judge panel heard arguments for two Dallas men asking for an official divorce. The men, known only as J.B. and H.B. in court filings claimed they had an amicable separation, with no disputes on separation of property and no children involved.

The couple married in 2006 in Massachusetts, then moved to Texas in 2008. Shortly after filing for divorce, State Attorney General Greg Abbott intervened claiming the men were not  married under Texas law. The State argued that a court couldn't grant a divorce without violating Texas law.  Again, if it doesn't exist, how can it be dissolved?

The appeals court reversed the trial court's order and dismissed the case.

Attorney Pete Schulte who represents one of the men said, "We obviously disagree with the justice's decision. We respect the court and the process and we are reviewing our options going forward."

Schulte said his team had 30 days to appeal, but no final decision had been made.

If the case is appealed, it would go to the Texas Supreme Court.

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