BREAKING: Texas appeals court upholds gay divorce, rules against AG’s office in Austin case

Angelique Naylor

A state appeals court has upheld a divorce that was granted to a lesbian couple in Austin last year, saying Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott lacks standing to appeal the divorce because he intervened in the case too late.

“Because the State lacks standing to appeal, we dismiss this appeal for want of jurisdiction,” a three-judge panel of Texas’ 3rd District Court of Appeals wrote in its decision posted earlier today.

Travis County District Judge Scott Jenkins granted a divorce to lesbian couple Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly last February. Naylor and Daly married in Massachusetts in 2004 before returning to Texas and adopting a child. Abbott’s office appealed Jenkins’ decision, arguing that judges in Texas cannot grant same-sex divorces because the state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.

Abbott’s office won an appeal last year of a same-sex divorce in Dallas, where the 5th District Court of Appeals ruled in his favor.

Jennifer Cochran, an attorney who represented Naylor, explains on her blog that the Austin appeals court’s decision doesn’t address the constitutional issues related to gay divorce:

The Appellate Court dismissed the appeal for “want of jurisdiction” finding that the State was not a party of record and thus lacked standing to appeal.

So what’s this mean? Well this particular divorce was granted and upheld by the appellate court because the AG intervened after the divorce was granted orally by Judge Jenkins and because neither party raised constitutional challenges to the Family Code or the Texas Constitution.  If either party had, the appellate court would have most likely found that the AG did have standing and would have addressed the constitutional arguments in addition to the procedural ones.  So, we will leave the constitutional challenge for another day (or case).

Abbott’s office could now drop its appeal, request that the entire 3rd District Court of Appeals hear the case, or appeal the three-judge panel’s ruling to the Texas Supreme Court.

According to the Texas Tribune, Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for Abbott’s office, said the decision “undermines unambiguous Texas law.”

“The Texas Constitution and statutes are clear: only the union of a man and a woman can be treated as a marriage in Texas,” she said, adding, “The Office of the Attorney General will weigh all options to ensure that the will of Texas voters and their elected representatives is upheld.”

More to come …

—  John Wright

Texas AG Gregory Abbott Prevails: State Won’t Recognize Gay Marriages Long Enough to Grant Divorces

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Homosexuals in Texas cannot marry, but for a nearly a year they had high hopes they could get divorced. Until today, when a federal appeals court in Dallas overturned October's ruling that said Jeffrey and Henry Buck's marriage of two years could be ended in a Texas court under the 14th Amendment.

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Queerty

—  John Wright

Newt’s second wife, Marianne, talks about his three marriages, two divorces and annulment

What great timing. Last week, thrice married Newt Gingrich was one of the first right-wingers to trash the Prop. 8 decision. It was the height of hypocrisy.

Then, this week, Esquire printed a profile of Newt Gingrich, complete with some revelations from his second wife, Marianne. She talked about their divorce for the first time:

She kind of guessed it, of course. Women usually do. But did she know the woman was in her apartment, eating off her plates, sleeping in her bed?

She called a minister they both trusted. He came over to the house the next day and worked with them the whole weekend, but Gingrich just kept saying she was a Jaguar and all he wanted was a Chevrolet. ” ‘I can’t handle a Jaguar right now.’ He said that many times. ‘All I want is a Chevrolet.’ “

He asked her to just tolerate the affair, an offer she refused.

He’d just returned from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he’d given a speech full of high sentiments about compassion and family values.

The next night, they sat talking out on their back patio in Georgia. She said, “How do you give that speech and do what you’re doing?”

“It doesn’t matter what I do,” he answered. “People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”

Newt’s a Catholic now. He had both previous marriages annulled in order to marry the woman, Calista (a.k.a. “The Chevrolet”) with whom he was having the affair when married to Marianne.

So, I particularly enjoyed Marianne’s comments on Newt’s Catholicism:

When asked about his conversion, Marianne laughs.

Why is that funny?

“It has no meaning.”

It has no meaning?

“It’s hysterical. I got a notice that they wanted to nullify my marriage. They’re making jokes about it on local radio. The minute he got married, divorced, married, divorced — what does the Catholic Church say about this?”

It doesn’t matter what Newt does or how he lives his life. It’s what he says. That will make a great slogan for his presidential campaign.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright