Wharton Widow Araguz waits for ruling on appeal

Nikki & Thomas Araguz

Capt. and Mrs. Araguz in happier times

The widow of a Wharton, TX firefighter killed in the line of duty has taken her fight to defend the validity of her marriage to a Houston court room. Nikki Araguz, whose husband Capt. Thomas Araguz died in a July 4, 2010 blaze, lost the first round of her legal battle earlier this year when Wharton Judge Randy Clapp ruled that Mrs. Araguz’s marriage invalid because her original birth certificate identified her as male.

Last week Araguz appeared before Presiding Hearing Officer Jacquelyn Coleman in Houston in hopes of having Judge Clapp’s ruling overturned. The pertinent question in the case is whether Araguz is female, as her current birth certificate, Texas issued driver’s license and other legal identity documents identify her; or male as her now amended original birth certificate identified her. If the appeals court finds that Araguz is legally male then her marriage to Capt. Araguz is invalid under Texas’ constitutional prohibition on marriage equality.

“At stake in this important case are the rights of transsexual people to be respected for who they are and to have their marriages recognized,” said Kent Rutter, the lead attorney for Araguz in the civil rights appeal.

Opposing Mrs. Araguz in court is Capt. Araguz’s ex-wife, Heather Delgado. Delgado sued to have the Araguz’s marriage declaired void so she would recieve widow’s benefits available to surviving spouses of firefighters killed in the line of duty. Delgado claims that she needs the benefits to provide for her two children with Capt. Araguz. Children of fallen firefighters receive separate benefits from surviving spouses including financial support and tuition to Texas state schools. Capt. Araguz’s children receive these benefits regardless of the outcome of Delgado’s suit against Mrs. Araguz.

I am pursuing this case to defend my marriage,” said Araguz.

The court’s ruling is expected before the end of the year.

—  admin

WATCH: Nikki Araguz mobbed by TV reporters outside court appearance on theft charge

A day after her attorneys announced they’ll appeal a judge’s ruling declaring her marriage invalid, transsexual widow Nikki Araguz was arraigned today on a theft charge for allegedly stealing a Rolex watch fr0m a woman at a Houston bar in February.

The Houston Chronicle reports that although a filmmaker accompanied Araguz —  who plans a documentary and reality show — she declined to talk to the media. In the below video from ABC 13, Araguz shouts an expletive at TV cameramen who try to get in an elevator with her.

On Wednesday, Araguz’s attorneys said they’ll appeal a Wharton judge’s decision to deny her death benefits from her late husband, volunteer firefighter Thomas Araguz III. In a setback for transgender equality, the judge declared the Araguzes’ marriage invalid because he said Araguz was born male.

Nikki Araguz is free on $2,000 bond on the theft charge.

—  John Wright

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