Divorce dilemma: Texas says same-sex couples can’t get divorce

Gay and lesbian couples who turn to the courts when they break up are getting mixed results across the nation. A Pennsylvania judge last month refused to divorce two women who married in Massachusetts, while New York grants such divorces even though the state doesn't honor the freedom to marry.

"The bottom line is that same-sex couples have families and their families have the same needs and problems, but often don't have the same rights," said Jennifer Pizer, a lawyer for Lambda Legal, a national legal organization that promotes equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

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The right to love—and loss

Currently, even in states where the freedom to marry is legal, divorce for gay couples is a legal nightmare.

"One of the reasons gay people, like others, need the freedom to marry is divorce," says Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson. "It's a system of guidelines and rules and structure to help people through a painful passage."

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Divorce in Texas?

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, the 2010 Democratic candidate for Attorney General of Texas, writes that two women should be able to divorce in Texas because the state’s family code says the “law of this State applies to persons married elsewhere who are domiciled in this state.”

"The Texas AG, if he agrees that gay people are 'persons', must read Texas divorce law which applies to 'persons,' not 'marriages.' Then, our Texas laws governing custody, support and community property, for example, would apply."

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Texas divorce case draws attorney general’s attention

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has intervened in a first-of-its-kind Travis County divorce case, arguing that the women involved, who were married in another state, may not be legally granted a divorce because Texas law defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

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Gay rights activists gathering in Dallas for national conference this week

The Dallas Morning News

February 3, 2010

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's National Conference on LGBT Equality, Creating Change, begins Wednesday in Dallas, Texas. The conference is estimated to attract over 2,000 LGBT advocates from across the country including the newly-expanded team from Freedom to Marry. [Link]

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Partner denied FMLA sick leave by ATT

January 29, 2010

Bryan Dickenson and Bill Sugg have been together for 30 years. After Sugg suffered a debilitating stroke in September, Dickinson requested time off from his job at AT&T under the federal Family Medical Leave Act to care for his partner. But AT&T is refusing to grant Dickenson the 12 weeks of leave that would be afforded to a heterosexual spouse under the act. [Link]

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Gay couple will apply for marriage license at Dallas’ Freedom to Marry Day demonstration

Pegasus News (Dallas/Ft Worth)
January 26, 2010
A same-sex wedding ceremony and protest for the rights that are denied to Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender (LGBT) couples will take place on Friday before Valentines Day, February 12 beginning at noon. The ceremony will begin in the Historical Plaza, outside the Records Building at 509 Main St. in downtown Dallas followed by the newlyweds proceeding to the marriage license office with the crowd in tow to demand a license that recognizes their union. Freedom to Marry Day is being co-sponsored by Equality March Texas. [Link]

Get involved and learn about Freedom to Marry Week here, and let us know about events planned in your area!

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Houston Mayor Calls Swearing-In Milestone for LGBT Community

The Associated Press
January 4, 2010
Houston Mayor Annise Parker said Monday her election to lead the nation's fourth-largest city marked a milestone for LGBT people but was just ''one step toward a tomorrow of greater justice.'' [Link]

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When Relationships become personal, Stereotypes fade away

edge Boston
December 28, 2009

Recent high-profile setbacks to marriage equality in places perceived to be liberal (New York, Maine) has been countered by the election of an openly gay woman to the mayorship of Houston, Texas. Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson says, "The fact that an openly gay candidate wins for mayor in the nation’s fourth largest city, in the South, in Texas, shows that when Americans get to know gay people as people, not as stereotypes, their resistance to treating gay people equally reduces." [Link]

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Editorial: Fallen barrier, little fanfare

The Balitmore Sun
December 15, 2009
The Baltimore Sun editorial board: "Houston voters decided that having a gay mayor is no big deal; perhaps one day they - and the rest of the nation - will think the same about marriage equality as well." [Link]

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