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Divorce Cases Taking Same-Sex Marriage Issue To Texas Supreme Court

State of Texas

The Texas Supreme Court has decided it will take a look at two separate divorce cases from 2010 that involve same-sex couples who were legally married in another state.

One of the cases, which took place in Travis County, ended with a judge agreeing to settle the couple’s divorce, but a different judge refused to hear the another case involving a couple living in Dallas.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott intervened in both the cases, arguing to the court that Texas law forbids any action that recognizes same sex marriage, including divorce.

"Texas has laws that say that same-sex marriages are void," said Brian Thompson, an attorney who sits on the board of Equality Texas, a statewide gay-rights group based in Austin. "So the question for the court is: can a court grant a divorce in a same sex marriage?"

Thompson said the state could say that because it doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage it cannot, therefore, dissolve one. It could also rule that in granting divorces they are not actually recognizing them, thus giving trial court jurisdiction in the matter.

Thompson said if the Texas Supreme Court takes into account the U.S. Supreme Court decision that dissolved parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, there is a small possibility of the court ruling that Texas laws regarding same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, which would make same-sex marriage legal in the State of Texas.

The court will begin hearing oral arguments Nov. 5.