Divorce dilemma: Texas says same-sex couples can’t get divorce
Apr 20, 2010 at 03:00 pm
As reported by Jamie Stengle for the Associated Press:
"After the joy of a wedding and the adoption of a baby came arguments that couldn't be resolved, leading Angelique Naylor to file for divorce. That left her fighting both the woman she married in Massachusetts and the state of Texas, which says a union granted in a state where the freedom to marry is legal can't be dissolved with a divorce in a state where it's not.
"A judge in Austin granted the divorce, but Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is appealing the decision. He also is appealing a divorce granted to a gay couple in Dallas, saying protecting the 'traditional definition of marriage' means doing the same for divorce.
"A state appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments in the Dallas case on Wednesday.
"The Dallas men, who declined to be interviewed for this story and are known only as J.B. and H.B. in court filings, had an amicable separation, with no disputes on separation of property and no children involved, said attorney Peter Schulte, who represents J.B. The couple, who married in 2006 in Massachusetts and separated two years later, simply want an official divorce, Schulte said.
"The drawn-out process has been frustrating for Naylor, who says she didn't file for divorce as an equal rights statement — she just wants to get on with her life.
"'We didn't ask for a marriage; we simply asked for the courtesy of divorce," said Naylor, 39, of Austin, who married Sabina Daly in Massachusetts in 2004.
"That year, Massachusetts became the first state to let same-sex couples tie the knot. Now, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia also allow them.
"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.
"'It really is an unenviable position that the courts have put these couples in,' said Karen Loewy, an attorney at the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders."
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