In Bexar County. And with it comes another opportunity for Greg Abbott to demonstrate his commitment to non-equality.
The Bexar divorce case was filed Feb. 18, eight days before U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex unions and its refusal to recognize out-of-state marriages are unconstitutional. The judge stayed his ruling, though, so the ban remains in effect until a higher court rules on the matter.
The women in the Bexar case, Allison Leona Flood Lesh and Kristi Lyn Lesh, were married on Aug. 13, 2010, in Washington. Their names appear on a copy of their marriage license, which was recorded last fall in Bexar County.
Their divorce has the makings of being a messy split because a child, identified only as K.A.F.L., was born during the marriage in San Antonio. Flood wants to share custody of the nearly 13-month-old girl, but Lesh claims in a court filing that Flood isn’t the child’s biological or adoptive parent.
“This illustrates what Judge Garcia identified as (what) same-sex couples are deprived of,” said Neel Lane, one of the San Antonio lawyers for the gay couples who sued the state over the same-sex marriage ban. “First, they are deprived of the benefits of an orderly dissolution of a marriage. Second, their children are denied the benefit of the many laws to protect their interests in the event of a divorce.”
Those benefits include child support and shared custody, Lane said.
A spokeswoman for the Texas attorney general’s office, which opposes gay marriage and divorce, declined to comment on the Bexar case. Instead, she provided the office’s legal brief submitted in the Supreme Court case.
“Marriage in Texas can only be between a man and a woman, and courts may not give effect to any legal claim asserted as a result of an out-of-state same-sex marriage,” the document states. A same-sex couple can sue to have the marriage “declared void,” though.
The state’s highest civil court took up the matter after different rulings in lower appellate courts. They involved two couples who were married in Massachusetts and later moved to Texas.
The particulars of this case aren’t important. The point is that same sex marriages are taking place all over the country, and some of these couples live in Texas. Until such time as Texas’ anti-same sex marriage law is invalidated, the state is going to have to deal with issues like these. Sticking our collective head in the sand and slow-walking the process does no one any good. The courts, in Washington and here in Texas, will eventually sort all this out. In the meantime, real people who were legally married are being needlessly harmed. We should face up to reality sooner rather than later.