Texas court hears state’s appeal in divorce of same-sex couple

As reported by Jamie Stengle for the Associated Press:


"A lawyer for a Dallas man trying to divorce the man he married in Massachusetts told a Texas appeals court Wednesday that his client is entitled to a divorce because he had a valid marriage.

"But the Texas Attorney General's Office argued before the three-judge 5th Texas Court of Appeals panel that the marriage isn't recognized by Texas, so they cannot get a divorce. Jimmy Blacklock, an assistant Texas solicitor general, said the men's union can only be voided.

"'The parties lack standing to file a divorce case because they're not married,' he said.

"The Dallas men wed in 2006 in Massachusetts, where the freedom to marry is legal, and separated two years later.

"Attorney General Greg Abbott appealed a Dallas state district judge's ruling in October that granted a divorce to the men and said the state's marriage equality ban violates equal rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

"Abbott is also appealing an Austin judge's ruling this spring that granted a divorce to two women married in Massachusetts.

"Jody Scheske, who represents the Dallas man listed in court records only as J.B., said his client doesn't want to overturn the state's marriage ban, but only wants to end his own marriage.

"'He is not seeking to enter into a marriage; he's seeking to end a marriage that was valid,' Scheske said.

"'The trial courts have the right to hear divorce cases from people who have valid marriages,' he said.

"Blacklock told the judges that the state's ban on the freedom to marry doesn't violate the Constitution and asked them to confirm that voidance is the correct way to dissolve the union of a same-sex couple.

"'Voidance is the remedy Texas has long provided to dissolve a void marriage,' he said.

"Scheske said voidance isn't applicable to his client because he has a valid marriage. And, he said, the constitutional issues only arose in the case after Abbott tried to intervene. The judge did not allow the intervention, so Abbott appealed.

"'My client's very private matter has become a public spectacle,' Scheske said.

"The court did not give a time frame for a ruling in the case."

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