Judge to rule this week in Nikki Araguz case

Nikki Araguz

Transgender widow vows appeal if she loses case

JUAN A. LOZANO  |  Associated Press

WHARTON, Texas — The transgender widow of a Texas firefighter will likely learn next week whether his family’s request to nullify their marriage and strip her of any death benefits will be granted, a judge said Friday.

State District Judge Randy Clapp made the announcement after hearing arguments in a lawsuit filed by the family of firefighter Thomas Araguz III, who was killed while battling a blaze last year. The suit argues that his widow shouldn’t get any benefits because she was born a man and Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.

The widow, Nikki Araguz, said she had done everything medically and legally possible to show that she is female and was legally married under Texas law. She believes that she’s entitled to widow’s benefits.

“I believe the judge is going to rule in my favor,” Araguz said after the court hearing.

The lawsuit seeks control over death benefits and assets totaling more than $600,000, which the firefighter’s family wants to go to his two sons from a previous marriage. Voiding the marriage would prevent Nikki Araguz from receiving any insurance or death benefits or property the couple had together.

Thomas Araguz died while fighting a fire at an egg farm near Wharton, about 60 miles southwest of Houston, in July 2010. He was 30.

His mother, Simona Longoria, filed a lawsuit asking that her son’s marriage be voided. She and her family have said he learned of his wife’s gender history just prior to his death, and after he found out, he moved out of their home and planned to end the marriage.

But Nikki Araguz, 35, has insisted that her husband was aware she was born a man and that he fully supported her through the surgical process to become a woman. She underwent surgery two months after they were married in 2008.

Longoria’s attorney, Chad Ellis, argued that Texas law — specifically a 1999 appeals court ruling that stated chromosomes, not genitals, determine gender — supports his client’s efforts to void the marriage.

The ruling upheld a lower court’s decision that threw out a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a San Antonio woman, Christie Lee Cavazos Littleton, after her husband’s death. The court said that although Littleton had undergone a sex-change operation, she was actually a man, based on her original birth certificate, and therefore her marriage and wrongful death claim were invalid.

Ellis presented medical and school records that he said showed Nikki Araguz was born without female reproductive organs and that she presented herself as a male while growing up and going to school. He also said her birth certificate at the time of her marriage indicated she was a man.

“By law, two males cannot be married in this state,” Ellis told the judge.

Nikki Araguz, who was born in California, did not change her birth certificate to reflect she had become a female until after her husband’s death, said Edward Burwell, one of the attorneys for Thomas Araguz’s ex-wife, Heather Delgado, the mother of his two children.

But one of Nikki Araguz’s attorneys, Darrell Steidley, said that when his client got her marriage license, she presented the necessary legal documents to show she was a female. He also noted changes made in 2009 to the Texas Family Code that allowed people to present numerous alternatives to a birth certificate as the proof of identity needed to get a marriage license. That was an example, he argued, of the state trying to move away from the 1999 appeals court ruling.

The changes in 2009 allowed transgendered people to use proof of their sex change to get a marriage license. The Texas Legislature is currently considering a bill that would prohibit county and district clerks from using a court order recognizing a sex change as documentation to get married.

After the hearing, the firefighter’s family and attorneys for his ex-wife criticized plans by Nikki Araguz to star in a reality television dating show and implied she was only interested in money and fame that the case would bring her.

“That is absurd,” Nikki Araguz said in response. “I’m after my civil equality and the rights that I deserve as the wife of a fallen firefighter.”

If the judge rules against the firefighter’s family in their motion for a summary judgment, the case would then proceed to trial. Araguz said if the judge rules against her, she would appeal, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

—  John Wright

Today, Love Doesn’t Matter

Not for Anton Tanumihardja and his partner, Brian Andersen. Not to the United States Government. Anton and Brian are among the 30,000 LGBT binational couples struggling to stay together, while the Department of Homeland Security works to tear them apart.

Crossposted at Daily Kos. Please rec if you can.
Anton and Brian’s story came to my attention via Newsworks yesterday. There’s is a common story I hear in my immigration advocacy. Visitor comes to America, finds a life, find love, options run out, faces deportation. In Anton’s case, he came from Indonesia, and that makes his imminent return especially dangerous. He’s applied for asylum, but has not yet had it granted and the clock is ticking down. From Newsworks:

“He is triply vulnerable as a gay man who is ethnically Chinese and non-Muslim, he’s less likely to be able to get any kind of protection from police or any authorities, all of whom are members of the dominant ethnicity and dominant religion,” says Soloway, who noted that Anton has no criminal record.

The simple solution for a heterosexual couple is get married, start the paperwork. That’s not an option for Anton and Brian or any gay people. Even if they got married in a state that allows it, the Federal Government will not respect that marriage as valid. They remain, in the eyes of the law, strangers.

Not every country is eligible for LGBT asylum applications as Indonesia is, and even among those countries who are DHS can be stingy about granting them. For many gay immigrants there are few legal options. A comprehensive look at the legal options can be found here.

His Representative Bob Brady has sent a letter of support to immigration services. These cases sometimes find relief in extraordinary measures, as when Senator Kerry went to bat for a couple in Massachusetts and obtained a stay. But usually, they do not. Most couples do not have the means or the connections to fight. So many must give up. So many American LGBT cititzens bid farewell to their home country.

Ironically, many can find themselves welcomed in other countries as the gay partner of a citizen, another example of the US’s lagging behind other western nations in recognizing gay rights. This is the case with Glenn Greenwald, who cannot bring his partner here, but would find himself, as a gay partner, welcomed by Brazil. Glenn was recently hospitalized and my first thought was, “And if he’s in the US right now, his partner can’t even come up to visit.” I was struck by a profound sadness imagining they were thousands of miles from each other at a time a crisis. This are times you want, need and crave the love and support of your partner.

My friend at Daily Kos, SmellyBeast, faces such a choice. She has chronicled her own struggle with this issue, here: “Desperate Measures” and “Planning my Ta-Ta For Now Tour.” She is making the difficult choice between love and country.

Which brings us back to our title. Love doesn’t matter to these individuals. Love doesn’t conquer all. State marriage certificates don’t matter. The United States Government turns a blind eye to both love and marriage. The partner you may have shared years with, raised children with, shared a home, is legally a stranger, and has no right to petition for your residency in this country.

But of course, outside DC’s bubble where the sole seems to be to mandate serve the corporations, love does matter. It matters above all else to every one of these 30,000 couple struggling to keep their families intact. LGBT relationships do matter and it’s past time our Government caught up to that reality. It isn’t OK for it to keep continuing doing this because, well, that’s the way it is, that’s the way it’s always been.

Send a Valentine to Congress today. Immigration Equality makes it easy, if your rep isn’t on your speed dial.

Tell them the love that binds LGBT families is no different than the love that binds every family. Get rid of the Defense of Marriage Act that forbids the DHS to recognize these couples, some lawfully wedded. Pass Uniting American Families Act that would allow LGBT citizens to petition for residency status for their partners.

The blog Stop the Deportations is an excellent source for keeping tabs on this and other stories as well.

Also: Help us out, by taking just 120 seconds to Click This Link and vote for Rhode Island to be the next state polled by Public Policy Polling. We could use some good news coming out of a reputable pollster right now about marriage equality, just as they are about to vote. Ask your friends to do so too. We’re behind Maine, but not by much.

“It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.” –Helen Keller

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  David Taffet

GOProud Member Doesn’t Like Gay People

GOPROUD MATT HISSEY X390A 22-year-old college student attending the CPAC conference with the gay
conservative group GOProud took time out from the event to tell Metro
Weekly he doesn’t much care for gay people and that only “straight
acting” gay people are normal.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  David Taffet

FLASHBACK… Newsweek says Obama doesn’t have to defend unjust laws

Newsweek was writing about the administration’s defense of DADT, but the arguments from various legal scholars are general, and apply to the defense of DOMA as well. It’s worth a re-read for anyone asking whether the administration HAS to defend bigoted laws.

There are two different arguments for why Obama could choose not to enforce the law. The first one: he could say it was unconstitutional.

Obama’s other option: simply using his executive power to decide how the laws will be, or won’t be, executed. So Obama could simply order the military to stop applying the law, or to use it much more narrowly and infrequently. “There are a lot of laws on the books he doesn’t rigorously enforce,” notes Geoffrey Corn, a military law expert who teaches at South Texas College of Law. “The courts have recognized that while Congress has full authority to pass laws, the president has authority over when to enforce laws,” says Turley. Many criminal statutes, for example, are often unenforced and prosecutors have a lot of discretion on when to bring charges and what sentence to seek.

Some experts wonder why the administration even chose to defend the law in the first place. Turley maintains that they didn’t have to: “The president has a duty to separate his administration from an unconstitutional statute. If a statute required racial discrimination, would the president seriously be arguing that he and his administration would have to defend the statute all the way to the Supreme Court?” Many liberals feel betrayed by a president who they see as having chosen to enforce and defend a discriminatory law.

As Joe has noted before, the White House outright refuses to answer the question of whether President Obama believes DADT and DOMA are constitutional. More White House obfuscation here.


—  admin

Judge: Cop Doesn’t Have to Out Officers

COP POLICE LAW ARREST X390 (ISTOCK) | ADVOCATE.COMA county judge decided that a police sergeant in Roseville, Calif., will
not have to name other gay and lesbian officers in a discrimination
lawsuit three officers filed against the city last year.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Audio: Focus on the Family (that doesn’t have the surname Hummel)

Kurt-dadAll LGBT people were once teens. These days, many among the current crop of LGBT teens feel enough acceptance to embrace truth before even embracing their high school diplomas. And television, being a reflection of life itself, has made some strides to catch up to the reality of this, our natural world.

But why should Focus on the Family care about any of that, when they can instead rely on their agendas, “pro-family” values, and the need to further marginalize rich, vibrant population sects for their own personal gain$? Instead of helping folks better understand and accept, they can simply let Catholic radio personality Teresa Tomeo tell the world that the gay teen is nothing more than Hollywood fiction:

(*NOTE: Only the first few minutes of the audio are pertinent to this post.)

( click to play audio clip)

Teen TV Programs Feature Gays [CitizenLink]

And if none of this works, Focus on the Family faithful: Homeschooling, blind folds, ear plugs, and hermetically sealed bunkers might also help keep your kids away form the gay. In a world where sensitive kids sing like angels and emote like humans, one can never be too cautious.

Good As You

—  admin

Because the Grinch doesn’t win: Pro-fairness Sens. push SB 4022

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and GOP Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) have made it official:


The bill will go straight to the floor, thanks to a little known provision called Rule 14.

The moderate Republicans will go straight to “aye,” thanks to little known reasoning not to.

This policy will inevitably go to the dustbin of history, thanks to a much known ruler that measures the longterm arc rather than short-term partisan whims.

That’s the plan, at least.


*Call your senators (especially in key areas):

Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): 202-224-6665

George Voinovich (R-OH): 202-224-3353

Olympia Snowe (R-ME): 202-224-5344

Richard Lugar (R-IN): 202-224-4814

Judd Gregg (R-NH): 202-224-3324

Scott Brown (R-MA): 202-224-4543

Kit Bond (R-MO): 202-224-5721

Mark Kirk (R-IL): 202-224-2854

Joe Manchin (D-WV): 202-224-3954

*MORE: Call your senator now and tell them not to go home until DADT is repealed [Courage]


*SEE ALSO: Obama supports free-standing bill to repeal DADT [Wash Blade]

Good As You

—  admin

Religious right doesn’t want lgbt children to have parental support

crosssposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

A new study has come out saying that lgbt youth who receive support from their parents are less likely to engage in destructive behaviors such as suicide or substance abuse.

According to U.S. News and World Reports, the study which appears in Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing:

. . .also found that those adolescents with highly accepting families have much higher levels of self-esteem and social support when they're young adults.

The study included 245 white and Hispanic LGBT young adults, aged 21 to 25, in California who were open about their sexual orientation to at least one parent or caregiver during adolescence.

Examples of positive parental and caregiver support include supporting their gender expression or advocating for their children when they are mistreated because of their LGBT identity.

However, leave it to the folks at the American Family Association's One News Now to object to the study. And what makes the phony news publication's objection more shameful is that it doesn't even try to refute what the study says.


Instead, it quotes Dr. Andre Van Mol, a private physician in California. Mol calls the study “indoctrination”:

“This is ideology and indoctrination in high gear, and it carries with it the implicit [threat] 'or else your kid will kill themselves,' which is ridiculous,” contends Dr. Andre Van Mol, a family physician in private practice in Redding, California.

. . . “Love is not the same as enablement and co-dependency,” counters Van Mol. “A parent can fully love and accept their [LGBT] teen, give them a safe home where they know that they as a person are accepted, and still have it be known that their parents feel that acting out on that sexual orientation will be an inherently negative thing,” he suggests. “I don't think that's contradictory.”

The family physician goes on to tell OneNewsNow the study pushes the fruits of a strategy to take over the medical field with the ideology and indoctrination of homosexuality.

I think it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Mol doesn't know what he is talking about.

Apparently One News Now isn't alone in raising an objection about the study:

In a November commentary, Christopher Doyle of the support group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX)calls efforts to scare parents into embracing their children’s sexual behavior for fear of suicide “minority stress” theory propagated by gay activists.

Even in gay-tolerant cultures, the occurrence of suicidal behavior is much higher among homosexuals than heterosexuals,” he explained.

Doyle, an ex-gay and PFOX board member, cited a 2006 study of homosexuals in the Netherlands, which was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage. Gay men were five times and lesbian women were 10 times more likely to contemplate suicide than heterosexuals. Another study found that a lower level of social hostility toward homosexuals in the Netherlands and Denmark compared with the U.S. was not associated with a lower level of psychiatric problems among homosexuals in these European countries.

Of course Doyle is inaccurate. The “studies” (actually there weren't two different studies. The article in the Christian Post is inaccurate. There was only one study) Doyle referred to was the work of Dr. Theo Sandfort. In an email written last year, Sandfort objected to how his work has been distorted.

On the whole, this entire needless controversy is a perfect example of how religious right groups operate. Was it really necessary for them to object? Common sense tells one that children who receive love and support from their family tend to have less problems with self-esteem. And we all know that unfortunately in some homes, lgbt children are robbed of that crucial support system because of the real fear that they will be rejected by their parents or even worse, kicked out on the streets.

The study just affirms this. But leave it to the religious right to object solely on ground that the lgbt identity is involved. And according to them, the study has nothing to do with making sure that lgbt children are safe and sound, but some evil plan by “gay activists” to force acceptance of homosexuality.

Such an idea is devoid of not only common sense, but basic Christian decency and kindness.

The sad irony is that without parental support, lgbt children are more likely to engage in behaviors such as suicide and substance abuse, and thereby becoming a statistic eagerly cited by religious right figures such as Tony Perkins and Peter Sprigg regarding the so-called “dangers of homosexuality.”

One can't help thinking that the only reason why the religious right objects to parents giving support to lgbt children is due to the cold fact that depressed, drug addicted lgbt youth are of more use to them than happy lgbt youth.

Related posts:

One News Now, Matt Barber dehumanizes recent suicide victims
Why can't the religious right stop denigrating gay suicide victims?

Phony Christians shedding crocodile tears over the bullying of lgbt teens

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Why Doesn’t GLAAD Bust Porn Studios For Marketing ‘Trannies’ and ‘She-Males’?

Hey porn lovers! The Adult Video Network just named its nominees for Best Transsexual Performer. And though I prefer gay porn, the AVN Awards are like the porn Oscars and so I had to take a look. Most of the movie titles had words like "tranny" and "she-male" which made me wonder, Why is GLAAD not all over the trans-porn industry?


Permalink | 1 comment | Add to del.icio.us

Tagged: , , , , , ,


—  admin

Video: McCain claims DADT is working, but still doesn’t understand how it works

Remember the video of John McCain having a meltdown when Kerry Eleveld challenged him on DADT. McCain claimed, wrongly, that servicemembers are only discharged if they admit to being gay. Kerry wouldn’t let McCain get away with the lie and McCain just kept sputtering away.

As noted in the post below, today, McCain burnished his credentials as one of the nation’s leading homophobes, while continuing to lie about how the policy works. Here’s the video:

It’s worse watching what McCain said, then it is reading his words.


—  admin