Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Travis County Judge enters final decree in same-sex divorce

Today my client and I appeared before the Honorable Scott Jenkins of the 53rd District Court in Travis County along with the Attorney General's office, my client's ex-spouse and her attorney.  At the hearing in February we set the hearing today to enter our final decree.  Since then, the Attorney General and both parties have been firing motions back and forth.  The AG hoped to intervene in the case to "defend the Texas Constitution and laws of Texas" by filing a petition in intervention one day after Judge Jenkins rendered his judgment in open court and granted the parties a divorce.  At today's hearing, Judge Jenkins ruled that the AG's office failed to file a timely intervention and was not entitled to intervene and then ENTERED the final decree that both parties and attorneys signed.

It was readily apparent from Judge Jenkins' line of questioning directed at the Deputy AG that he was very concerned about the effect of prolonged litigation and appeals on the child at issue, a four-year old boy.  He questioned the Deputy AG if the AG's office had indeed considered the child when they made the decision to get involved in the case and drag it out in appeals.  Jenkins recited the child's birthday from memory and near pleaded with the Deputy AG to take the "wise and merciful" course by "leaving these parties alone" (i.e. please don't appeal his decision).  He reasoned that with a similar case in Dallas on appeal that the AG's office could walk away from this one and let the appellate court, maybe even the Supreme Court of Texas, vett the issues surrounding valid same-sex marriages entered into in other states and divorce here in Texas.  The Dallas case involves two men who do not have children.

Now we wait.  It's a little too early to celebrate a victory however it was still a huge step in equality. Read exclusive coverage of today's hearing written by Austin-

Attorney general intervention denied; Travis County gay divorce stands

Judge says Dallas case would likely reach the Texas Supreme Court, which could establish whether same-sex couples married elsewhere may legally divorce in Texas  Read more