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

Light a Fire tonight at The Mac

Time to light a fire under people

When a group of friends came together to take a stance against bullying, Light a Fire was born. Now they hope to encourage many others to continue to raise awareness and educate on the issue. Fort Worth councilman Joel Burns guest speaks along with Dottie Griffith, Mike Rawlings and more at the Light a Fire inaugural event, with donations given to Youth First Texas.

DEETS: The MAC, 3120 McKinney Ave. 6:30 p.m. $25. The-Mac.org. Search “light a fire” on Facebook.

—  Rich Lopez

UPDATE: Police release description of missing vehicle belonging to NE Dallas murder victim

Earlier we told you about the two men found dead in a burned Northeast Dallas apartment. Police are still not releasing the victims’ names because their bodies were so badly damaged in the fire that they’re waiting on the medical examiner to positively identify them. However, police have now released a description of the vehicle belonging to one of the victims, which is apparently missing. The vehicle is a silver, four-door 2002 Saturn L200, with a license number of 5CVDN. If you see it, call 911.

Again, police have confirmed that they believe the two victims were a gay couple, but they aren’t treating the murders as a hate crime. Police also say they don’t know the motive for the crime, prompting some to question how a hate crime can be ruled out. We posed this question to DPD Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse:

“Detectives will not elaborate at this time,” Janse told Instant Tea. “It may hamper the investigation.”

—  John Wright

PSA: Know Who Arcade Fire Is

Or else the hipsters WILL KILL YOU.

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

VIdeo: ‘No, no — God knows how to pinpoint [his Sodom-like fire rain]‘ #CPAC11

Reason.tv gives us the best behind-the-scenes look at CPAC yet:



[Reason TV]

The takeaway: There is much disunity within the current conservative movement, though threats of Sodom’s fire rains remain a Falwellian constant.

Oh, and guns. Those bullet distributors seem to be a great uniter.

***

*SEE ALSO: Incoming head of ACU (CPAC sponsoring org.) puts distance between conference and GOProud




Good As You

—  David Taffet

Video: Eh, after a day of crowded malls, a lake of fire sounds like a respite




Good As You

—  admin

School Board Member Clint McCance Resigns Under Fire for Facebook Comments

Clint McCance, appearing on Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN this evening, announced that he will resign from the Midland School Board.  The controversy erupted when McCance unleashed an anti-gay tirade on Facebook in response to a rash of bullying-related suicides.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement:

“Clint McCance’s decision to resign from the school board is a step forward for the community he represents.  We are hopeful the wounds that were inflicted will soon be healed.  What remains troubling is that Mr. McCance focused his regret on particular word choices not the animus behind those words.  We hope he will take this time to reflect not only on the language he used but on what he can do to make the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people better.”


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Why some Iowans will vote to fire judges (Hint: careful examination of jurisprudence not #1 basis)

The so-called “Iowa For Mob Rule” “Iowa For Freedom” group has an interactive map feature where locals can leave their name, location, and a brief comment about why they are planning to vote against the retention of three of the seven justices who found gender discrimination in civil marriage law to be unconstitutional. Comments that give us some insight into what’s guiding this rage:

Screen Shot 2010-09-22 At 3.03.18 Pm

Screen Shot 2010-09-22 At 3.03.30 Pm

Screen Shot 2010-09-22 At 3.03.37 Pm

Screen Shot 2010-09-22 At 3.03.58 Pm

Screen Shot 2010-09-22 At 3.04.46 Pm

Screen Shot 2010-09-22 At 3.05.16 Pm

Add Your Name to the Map [Iowa For Freedom]

So we have a whole lot of God, mixed in with fundamental misunderstanding of the term “opinion” as it applies to the judiciary (similar to the misunderstanding of the word “theory” in science), and topped off with the unbelievable view that out of all of our enemies foreign or domestic, it’s judges like the Iowa seven who are America’s “single biggest enemy.” This in a one-sided political campaign where the judges aren’t going to pause their lives and spend their cash on defending their record. So essentially we have Iowa For Freedom using fake Sandra Day O’Connor quotes, giving false civics lessons about the people supposedly always getting decide all minority rights, and waging an all-out war against sitting ducks who have done nothing more than base their decision on their learned reading of the constitution rather than their own, largely faith-based personal whims.

And here I thought corn was the only Iowa export able to give me indigestion.




Good As You

—  John Wright

TRAILER: Fire From The Heartland

The coming documentary Fire From The Heartland is from Citizens United, the same outfit whose hit piece on Hillary Clinton resulted in the Supreme Court decision that corporations can make unlimited donations to political campaigns. This time they are exalting the nation’s female wingnuts. Clip description:

The first-ever film to tell the entire story of the conservative woman in her own words, “Fire from the Heartland” is a powerful statement about America at a crossroads and the women who have awakened to the crisis. With role models such as Clare Boothe Luce, Margaret Thatcher, and Phyllis Schlafly as inspiration, these women are the unintended consequence of the liberal feminist movement. Tracing the long history of the many conservative women who have been the backbone of this great nation, from the founding mothers of our Republic to today’s “Mama Grizzlies,” this powerful and compelling documentary honors the self-made American woman. Activists, politicians and commentators such as Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, S.E. Cupp, Dana Loesch, Michelle Easton, Sonnie Johnson, Jenny Beth Martin, Michelle Moore, Jamie Radtke, Deneen Borelli, Janine Turner, and Congresswomen Cynthia Lummis, Jean Schmidt, and Michele Bachmann share their emotional stories of hardship and triumph in their fight for freedom. These women leaders are fanning the flames of liberty across the nation.

Definitely watch the clip, folks.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

#VVS2010: 19 Kids and one ‘nation that’s on fire’

The Duggars [AFA]

Get Adobe Flash player




Good As You

—  John Wright