Friday, February 12, 2010

Travis County Judge grants same-sex divorce

AUSTIN, TEXAS - A Texas judge in Travis County granted a divorce to a same-sex couple this week.   "It was a great day in Texas for same-sex couples", said Attorney Jennifer Cochran, who represents Angelique Naylor, the petitioner in the case.  "Texas may not allow same-sex marriage, but by allowing same-sex divorces - it moves one step closer to true equality".

The ruling, by the Honorable Judge Scott H. Jenkins of the 53rd Judicial District Court, effectively enables couples to move outside of jurisdictions that allow same-sex marriage.

Most same-sex couples who get married in states that allow same-sex marriage, such as Massachusetts where Ms. Naylor was married in 2004, typically remain there and raise their families there to avoid the added burden of having to travel back and forth to manage the marriage in terms of family legal disputes or questions about estate law and inheritance and medical insurance issues.

The court's ruling is a signal that even though Texas forbids same-sex marriage, the state is nonetheless open to the idea of same-sex couples settling down and raising families in the Lone Star state.

"Texas is a big state with a big heart," said Jennifer Cochran. "The court put politics aside and did the right thing for a family that wanted nothing more than what other decent families want when marriages don't work out.  The focus was on the best interests of the child.  That the couple happened to be same sex was incidental to the more important fact that two loving parents found a way to come to a civilized agreement about separation of assets and child custody.  Other couples – gay and straight - should take a lesson.  There are too many ugly and contentious divorces that leave families shattered and children traumatized.  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."

The Attorney General filed a petition to intervene in the case one day after the Judge rendered his decision, which could land the case before an appellate court in the near future.