The state of Texas argued Wednesday
that granting a divorce to a gay couple would lead to the state being
forced to recognize gay marriage, the AP reported.
Last October, a judge ruled that two
Dallas men – known only as J.B. and H.B. – married in
Massachusetts may divorce in the state. The ruling by District Judge
Tena Callahan was quickly criticized by social conservatives who
support the gay marriage ban placed in the state's constitution by
voters in 2005.
Attorney General Greg Abbott disagreed
with the ruling and announced his office would appeal: “Today's
ruling purports to strike down that constitutional definition –
despite the fact that it was recently adopted by 75 percent of Texas
In her ruling, Judge Callahan called
the state's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.
Abbott argues that the marriage should
be “voided,” which would essentially nullify the marriage as
“The parties lack standing to file a
divorce because they're not married,” Jimmy Blacklock, an assistant
Texas solicitor general, argued before the three-judge 5th
Texas Court of Appeals panel hearing the case.
J.B.'s attorney, Jody Scheske, argued
that his client is not looking to marry in Texas, but only wants to
end his own legal marriage.
“He is not seeking to enter into a
same-sex marriage; he's seeking to end a marriage that was valid,”
Scheske told the court.
“The trial courts have the right to
hear divorce cases from people who have valid marriages,” he added.
The men married in Massachusetts –
one of 6 municipalities where gay marriage is legal in the U.S. –
in September 2006. J.B. said the couple had been together 11 years
and that the break was painful but amicable. He filed for divorce in
January 2009, citing “discord of conflict of personalities.”
Abbott has also appealed the divorce of
a lesbian couple.
Sabina Daly, 41, of San Antonio, and
Angelique Naylor, 39, of Austin were granted a divorce in February 9
by Travis County District Judge Scott Jenkins. The women married in
Massachusetts in 2004. The couple later moved to Texas, where they
built a home restoration and renovation business and adopted a now
Judge Jenkins asked Abbott not to
appeal the divorce, saying the Dallas case would decide the matter.
Naylor agreed, saying the appeal was
“an egregious misuse of state resources.”