No divorce marriage: Gay couples challenge Texas divorce law

What defines “marriage”? The Texas Supreme Court has to evaluate that very question. They are charged with the task of deciding whether they ought to continue defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. In essence, theirs is the task of deciding whether or not gay marriage ought to be legal in that state. Currently, two cases involving same-sex couples who married in Massachusetts and filed for divorce in Texas are before the courts.

Because gay marriage is illegal in Texas, it is also illegal to divorce a same-sex couple in that state. Texas courts can declare the marriage void, but they cannot grant a divorce — at least not yet. The two couples married in Massachusetts are pushing for change in Texas. However, for a gay divorce to be granted, the state would have to recognize that the marriage was valid in the first place.

In 2005, a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman was approved by 76 percent of Texas voters. The Texas Family Code also similarly defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Because of those definitions, Texas courts can only grant divorces in cases where the marriage fits into those parameters. Therefore, same-sex couples do not qualify either for marriages or divorces.

Same-sex couples’ rights have been a hot topic across the United States in recent years. It is a polarizing issue that has caused heated debate. Laws are not static; they are changing and changeable. Same-sex married couples who are seeking to divorce can currently only be divorced in the states in which gay marriage is recognized under the law, but as more and more gay couples speak up and advocate for change, changes in the law could be on the horizon in some states.

Source: The OneNewsNow, “Gotta be married to get divorced,” Charlie Butts, Dec. 9, 2011

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