Texas denies gay couple divorce; marriage ban ruled constitutional

Tue. August 31, 2010 5:07 PM by OnTopMag.com

Chicago, IL - A Texas court of appeals has reversed a lower court's ruling allowing a gay couple to divorce. The court ruled Tuesday that the state's ban on gay marriage does not violate the Texas Constitution, the AP reported.

The Fifth Texas Court of Appeals overruled a ruling by District Judge Tena Callahan that allowed two Dallas men – known only as J.B. and H.B. – married in Massachusetts to divorce. The court concluded that Callahan did not have the proper jurisdiction to make such a determination.

Callahan's ruling also declared Texas' ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. The appeals court disagreed.

Attorney General Greg Abbot appealed the ruling, arguing that the marriage should be "voided," which essentially nullifies the marriage as invalid.

"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 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 men married in Massachusetts – the first U.S. state to legalize gay marriage in 2004 – in September 2006. J.B. said the couple had been together 11 years and that the split was painful but amicable. He filed for divorce in January 2009, citing "discord of conflict of personalities."

Plaintiffs have not announced whether they'll appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court.

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