Monday, February 15, 2010

First Same-Sex Divorce in Travis County

Gay divorce in Travis County granted

Attorney General opposes decision

Updated: Monday, 15 Feb 2010, 2:28 PM CST
Published : Monday, 15 Feb 2010, 7:44 PM CST
Angelique Naylor said she did not mean to make history when she filed for divorce, but she does not mind fighting for rights she believes same-sex couples deserve.
A Travis County judge seems to agree with her and granted her a divorce from her wife of five years, despite the wife's opposition to the split.
"On the day that we got married, she wanted equal rights," said Naylor during an interview in December, before the Judge's decision. "On the day that we adopted our child, she wanted equal rights. She's just trying to tell the judge she doesn't have to divide those assets with me."
Judge Scott H. Jenkins of the 53rd Judicial District Court ruled in favor of Naylor's petition for divorce on Feb. 10. The next day, Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a petition of intervention, saying the state does not recognize same-sex marriage and therefore, same-sex divorce. It is the second time Abbott has filed such a petition. The first time came before a court ruled in favor of a same-sex divorce in the Dallas area.
"I don't know what kind of difference it will make that he filed the petition after the decision was made," said Naylor. "At this point, I'm just waiting for the decree so it's official."
Naylor's attorney, Jennifer Cochran, has said the Attorney General's intervention could land the case in an appellate court. Meanwhile, she hopes the judge's decision resonates nationwide.
"We hope other states will follow the lead of this Texas judge and rise above ideology to do the right thing no matter what the sexuality of the divorcing couple," she said in a statement.
From Jerry Strickland, Communications Director, Office of the Attorney General:
"Because the law and the Constitution of the State of Texas defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, voidance—not divorce—is the proper remedy in this case. Accordingly, one of the parties has argued in favor of voidance throughout these proceedings. Last week, the State learned that the parties may be changing their legal position and may now instead seek a divorce. The State maintains that the Court has no legal authority to grant this divorce, and as a result, the State must intervene in this case to defend the Texas Constitution." 

News8 Austin also covered the story here.