If justice delayed is justice denied, one could argue that the gay Dallas couple known as “J.B.” and “H.B.” have already effectively lost their case.
It was precisely four years ago this month when J.B. filed an uncontested petition for divorce from H.B. in Dallas County court, seeking to amicably dissolve their 2006 Massachusetts marriage.
Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott promptly intervened to challenge J.B.’s divorce petition, arguing that Texas’ constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage also prohibits the state from granting gay divorces. But State District Judge Tena Callahan, a Dallas Democrat, disagreed. Callahan ruled in September 2009 that not only could she hear J.B.’s petition — but also that the state’s marriage amendment is unconstitutional.
Needless to say, Abbott appealed, and not surprisingly, an all-Republican panel of the 5th District Court of Appeals reversed Callahan’s decision and ruled in Abbott’s favor in August 2010.
In March 2011, J.B. appealed the case to the Texas Supreme Court, and that’s where it’s been sitting ever since, joined by another same-sex divorce case from Austin. The state high court requested briefs in the case but has not scheduled oral arguments.
And now, James J. “Jody” Scheske, the attorney representing both J.B. and the lesbian Austin couple, says it’s possible the Texas Supreme Court will wait until after the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in two marriage equality cases it has agreed to hear.
“The [Texas Supreme] Court has not decided whether it will hear either of them,” Scheske said in an email Tuesday. “There is no deadline for the Court to decide what it wants to do. The Court may be waiting to determine what the U.S. Supreme Court decides in the marriage-related cases, but that is only a guess. The U.S. Supreme Court will likely issue opinions in those cases at the end of June.”
Asked to comment on his clients’ predicament in the meantime, Scheske added, “Limbo is a good word for it.”