Friday, October 02, 2009

Dallas judge paves way for gay couple to get divorce and says state ban on gay marriage violates the U.S. Constitution

In a first for Texas, a judge ruled Thursday that two men married in another state can divorce in Texas and that the state's ban on gay marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.

Dallas News reports:
Although the case is far from settled, and the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage is a long way from being thrown out, Dallas state District Judge Tena Callahan's ruling says the state prohibition of same-sex marriage violates the federal constitutional right to equal protection.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott had intervened in the two men's divorce case, arguing that because a gay marriage isn't recognized in Texas, a Texas court can't dissolve one through divorce. Callahan, a Democrat, denied the attorney general's intervention and said her court "has jurisdiction to hear a suit for divorce filed by persons legally married in another jurisdiction."

In a prepared statement, Abbott said he would appeal the ruling "to defend the traditional definition of marriage that was approved by Texas voters."

"This is huge news. We're ecstatic," said Dallas attorney Peter Schulte, who represents the man who filed the divorce. The man, identified in court documents as J.B., asked that he and his former partner not be identified. Schulte said that the ruling was a surprise and that he hoped to have a divorce order for the judge to sign in the "next few weeks."

The men married in Cambridge, Mass., in September 2006 and later returned to Dallas. READ MORE

Dallas judge to hear gay divorce, says marriage ban is unconstitutional

Dallas Voice reports:
A Dallas state district judge has ruled that she has jurisdiction to grant a divorce to a same-sex couple that was married in Massachusetts but now resides in Texas, in what an attorney representing one of the parties is calling a major victory for LGBT equality.

After the divorce petition was filed in January, the state Attorney General’s Office intervened in the case, arguing that Texas courts may not grant divorces to same-sex couples because the state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages.

But Judge Tena Callahan, a Democrat who presides over Dallas County’s 302nd Family District Court, ruled Thursday, Oct. 1 that Texas’ constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage — approved by voters in 2005 — violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“That’s what’s significant,” said attorney Peter A. Schulte, who represents the man who filed for a divorce from his husband. “It’s the first time in Texas that a court has acknowledged that there is an issue with the way our statute and our constitution is drafted when it comes to same-sex couples. That is huge for the community."

Schulte said he expects the AG’s Office to appeal the decision, but not before his client is granted a divorce decree within the next few weeks. READ MORE