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.

—  John Wright