Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Transgender Widow May Lose Her Deceased Husband's Benefits in Lawsuit Over Her Gender

"Days after losing their son in the line of duty, the family of a fallen Texas firefighter is battling his wife in court, saying her status as a transgender woman makes her inelligible to receive his death benefits. The family of Thomas Araguz III, of Wharton, Texas, has alleged in a lawsuit filed eight days after his July 4 death that he had been separated from his wife Nikki, nursing feelings of betrayal after learning that his wife of two years had been born a man," reports ABC News. "Araguz died while fighting a fire, he was 37. He died without a will and under Texas law, probate courts typically divide a decedent's assets and benefits between the spouse and children. But Chad Ellis, a Houston lawyer hired by Araguz's mother, said he will challenge the validity of the couple's marriage in probate court as a means to redirect any benefits that may have gone to Nikki Araguz to her husband's 7- and 10-year-old sons from his previous marriage. His legal argument, Ellis said, is based on both the state's laws against same-sex marriage and a separate 1999 state ruling."