Attorney General Greg Abbott is once again fighting to protect the sanctity of divorce in Texas.
Texas law not only limits marriage to opposite-sex couples, it forbids any action — including divorce — that recognizes or validates a same-sex marriage obtained out of state, said James Blacklock, a lawyer in Attorney General Greg Abbott’s appellate division. He urged the 3rd Court of Appeals to invalidate the divorce.
“The people of Texas and their elected representatives have spoken very clearly on the issues of this case: Marriage consists solely of the union of one man and one woman,” Blacklock said during oral arguments.
But lawyers for the women, who were married in Massachusetts, urged the three-judge appellate panel to preserve the divorce, saying Abbott has no authority to intervene in a case that ended months ago.
“Discrimination against gays and lesbians is really the last area in which state government openly discriminates against its citizens,” lawyer Jody Scheske told the court. “If the attorney general’s office has its way, we also would deny legal access to divorce.”
The court panel — Republican David Puryear and Democrats Woodie Jones and Diane Henson — has no deadline for issuing its opinion. However it rules, an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court is likely.
After their 2004 wedding in Massachusetts, one of five states where gay marriage is legal, Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly moved to Austin and adopted a son, now 5.
Naylor filed a divorce petition last year, leading to a “breathtakingly sad” two-day February hearing over the division of property and shared custody of their son, lawyer Robert Luther told the court. At the end, Jenkins made an oral ruling granting the divorce and told the women to return to his court in one month with final papers for him to sign.
The next day, Abbott moved to intervene in the case, arguing that Jenkins lacked authority to grant a same-sex divorce. Jenkins refused Abbott’s request, chided the attorney general for failing to take the child’s well-being into account and issued a final divorce decree on March 31. Abbott appealed.
Yes, as I said before, Abbott believes that divorce is the sacred dissolution of a bond between one man and one woman. He’s gotten involved before to ensure that gay married couples stay gay married. If only these folks had been required to take Warren Chisum’s marriage class before they got gay married, maybe we wouldn’t have these problems. Perhaps the next Lege can do something about that.