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Texas Supreme Court to hear oral arguments on marriage and divorce for same-sex couples

Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Texas state sealWith marriage equality may come divorce equality: the Texas Supreme Court has said that it will consider whether it has jurisdiction to authorize same-sex divorces in the state and whether the Texas’s marriage equality ban is constitutional.  The AP reports:

The court will hold oral arguments on Nov. 5 for two cases presented by Dallas and Austin same sex-couples who married legally in Massachusetts. Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage in 2005.

In one of the cases, a woman wanting to divorce her wife argues that Texas’ family code allows for same-sex divorce and the U.S. Constitution requires courts in Texas to grant her a divorce.

The state intervened because, Abbot said in a brief, the Texas’ family code prohibits the state and its agencies from giving effect to any public record or judicial proceeding that creates, recognizes or validates marriage of persons of the same sex. By definition, Abbot continues, the divorce petitioner was asking the court to give effect to her same-sex marriage.

The other case, involving two men, also asks the court whether Texas family code is consistent with the U.S. Constitution and whether the section of the Texas’ family code that prohibits same-sex marriage can be interpreted to ban same-sex divorce as well.

One of the men wanting to be divorced argued in a court brief that it’s increasingly likely that more and more same-sex couples will file for divorce in Texas, and he said it’s important for a state Supreme Court to rule on the issue.

“Over 28 percent of the U.S. population lives in a jurisdiction where same-sex marriage is permitted. Texas is one of the fastest growing states – attracting thousands of migrants each year, including couples from those states that permit same-sex mar riage,” he said in the brief.

The issue of divorce rights for same-sex couple is an important one because divorce bans essentially prohibit married same-sex couples from moving out of states that have marriage equality.  And, of course, a ruling on the constitutionality of a ban on divorce equality could likely lead to a ruling against a marriage equality ban.

All nine of the Texas Supreme Court’s current justices–which are elected and not appointed–are Republicans.

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