Appeals court reaffirms decision in Araguz case

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Nikki Araguz Loyd, pictured here during her wedding to her first husband, firefighter Thomas Araguz

A state appeals court has reaffirmed its earlier decision to validate the marriage of a transgender widow seeking the estate of her firefighter husband who died battling a blaze, sending a mandate back down to the Wharton County judge who presided at trial to issue a new ruling validating the marriage.

The ruling Friday, Oct. 23, by the 13th Texas Court of Appeals sent the case of Nikki Araguz Loyd back to a Wharton County judge who originally voided the marriage because Texas did not recognize same-sex marriage. Kent Rutter, an attorney for Loyd, said the appeals court had ruled early last year in Loyd’s favor — determining she was a woman at the time of her marriage — but had to issue another ruling this month after an appeal sent to the Texas Supreme Court was not heard.

Loyd — who has since remarried — told ABC 13 in Houston, “It’s the most beautiful twist of karma. The judge to so viciously ruled against me now has to reverse his own ruling. It’s never been about money. It was not about money when I married my husband. It certainly was not about money when I buried him.”

She added, “It’s bittersweet finally having the victory now, when I don’t necessarily need it. But it allows me to do amazing things with it. I’m just going to go on about my life helping other people do the same, but really taking a step out of the political movement and really focusing more on spiritual aspects.”

The Houston TV station notes, “According a 2014 appeals court opinion, Araguz Loyd’s marriage was valid due to a change in the Family Law code that states that a person who has had a sex change is eligible to marry a person of the opposite sex. Aragon Loyd said she has a sex change months after she got married to Thomas and that he knew she was transgender at the time they married. Araguz Loyd now stands to collect more than half a million dollars in the death benefits.”

Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June affirming the constitutional right to marriage equality would have settled the issue as well, since that ruling made Araguz Loyd’s gender at the time of her marriage irrelevant.

The Appeals Court’s ruling also overturns Littleton v. Prange, the 1999 lawsuit in which Texas courts ruled that trans woman Christie Lee Cavazos Littleton could not sue Dr. Mark Prange for malpractice in the death of her husband, Jonathan Mark Littleton because Christie Lee was was a biological male, despite her gender reassignment surgery, and Texas did not recognize same-sex marriage. While the ruling caused problems for trans women trying to marry men, transgender lesbians were able to use it to their advantage in marrying their female partners.

Christie Lee later married a second time, to Pierre Van De Putte. She died March 15, 2014, at age 61.

—  Tammye Nash

Transsexual widow Nikki Araguz to appeal Texas judge’s decision declaring her marriage invalid

Nikki Araguz

Transsexual widow Nikki Araguz plans to appeal a state district judge’s ruling last week declaring her marriage invalid and denying her death benefits from her husband.

Judge Randy Clapp, of the 329th Judicial District Court in Wharton County, ruled May 24 that Nikki Araguz is not entitled to death benefits from Thomas Araguz, a volunteer firefighter who was killed in the line of duty last year.

Clapp declared the Araguzes’ marriage invalid because he said Nikki Araguz was born male and Texas law prohibits same-sex marriage.

In a press release sent out this afternoon, Nikki Araguz’s attorneys, Frye and Associates, announced that they plan to appeal Clapp’s decision to the 13th Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi “in a timely manner.”

Nikki Araguz also issued her own press release, saying she is “completely devastated” by Clapp’s ruling and providing background about her marriage and the court case.

We’ve posted both press releases in their entirety after the jump.

—  John Wright

UDPATE: Texas allows a gay marriage

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Sabrina Hill and Therese Bur

Yesterday we reported that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has been asked for an opinion about whether a transgender woman can marry another woman. As it turns out, the couple has already married — on Monday in San Antonio. The El Paso Times reports:

Sabrina J. Hill and her longtime girlfriend, Therese “Tee” Bur, were legally married Monday in San Antonio after being unable to get a marriage license in El Paso.

“It’s a weight lifted,” Hill said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “Now the federal government and state government recognize our love.”

The story explains that Hill was born with both male and female organs. She was raised as a male and served in the Army, but when she was 28 a medical exam determined that she had ovaries. Hill underwent a sex-change operation in 1991, and she’s been with Bur for 17 years. They applied for a marriage license in February in El Paso, and the county attorney there requested an opinion from Abbott about whether it could be granted. So instead the couple traveled to San Antonio, where the clerk said he grants same-sex marriage licenses once or twice a year. The San Antonio clerk is relying on a Texas appeals court ruling in Littleton v. Prange, which states that one’s sex is determined by one’s birth certificate.

Hill and Bur never intended to make a social statement or seek publicity but are now receiving interview requests from as far away as England.

“It did strike me. We have been living so covertly, being careful not to express public displays of affection, and then we were standing in front of a judge saying, ‘You may now kiss your bride,'” Bur said. “A public display of affection — it is so validating.”

Watch a report from KSAT in San Antonio by going here. лучший сайт для копирайтеровпиар сайта

—  John Wright