As Nikki Araguz continues her battle to receive death benefits, lawyers for the transgender widow have asked that the lawsuit against her be dismissed. On Monday, they released copies of e-mails between Nikki and Thomas Araguz written on the day of her transition surgery, Oct. 7, 2008. The e-mails appear to refute claims by Araguz’s family that Thomas Araguz didn’t know his wife was transgender.

The e-mails said:

Thomas Araguz: “What can i say to make you feel better? The only thing I known (sic) is ‘I LOVE YOU.’ Trevor and Tyler miss you dearly, they love you with all their little heats. (sic) Today has been a hell of day, would you agree? After taking (sic) to you, I called my mother and law (sic) to let her known (sic) the good news, about your opt. An (sic) you know she spead (sick) the good news all the world. HEY I TO GO I A HOUSE FIRE. ILU”

Nikki Araguz: “My sweet husband, I LOVE YOU. It has been a day heck and also God answered prayers. I love you so much. We can now move on with the rest of our livrs (sic)…I just got this thing to work somehow and the pain lady came in and gave me morphine…si I am fading fast. You are my best friend, and Praise God fro (sic) you…this is wild that little thing is gone…I think I am supposed to see it for the first timr (sic) tomorrow….Imiss my boys too…Have a great day at school tomorrow…Love you sweet wife, Mrs. Nikki Araguz”

Read more here from Also, the Houston Chronicle reports that the Transgender Foundation of America released a statement from a woman who says she saw Thomas Araguz accompany Nikki to an appointment at a transgender clinic in 2007.

The parents and ex-wife of Thomas Araguz, a volunteer firefighter in Wharton who died while battling a blaze last month, have taken Nikki to court, saying that Thomas never knew Nikki was transgender and that their marriage was not valid. They want all of his $600,000 estate to go to his parents, ex-wife and his two sons from his first marriage.

The family argues that the marriage between Thomas and Nikki was never valid, whether Thomas knew she was trans or not, because Texas law considers Nikki a man, despite the transition, and the state does not recognize same-sex marriage. Nikki’s attorney, Phyllis Frye, however, points to a change in state law that took effect last year that recognizes a sex-change as a form of identification to get a marriage license. Frye says that Thomas and Nikki had, at the very least, a legally recognized common-law marriage.

David Woods, who writes as the “Houston Libertarian Examiner” on, says he has a way to settle the matter. Consider the marriage a contract between Thomas and Nikki, and keep the government out of it altogether.

He writes, in part:

“When it comes down to it, ‘marriage’ is all about love, sex, and romance. What in the world is the State of Texas doing regulating love, sex, and romance? Shouldn’t that be between the partners and God (or if they don’t believe in God, then just between the partners)? Why do politicians, bureaucrats, and judges need to enter this picture?

“One might answer that a marriage partnership does have legal ramifications because it is also a legal contract involving matters such as property dissolution, survivor benefits, and medical decisions. Ok, good point. After all, the enforcement of contracts is a legitimate function of government.

“But there should be no difference between a ‘marriage’ contract, and any other kind of contract, regardless of the relationship between the parties or the reason for the contract. A contract is a contract is a contract, as far as the government is concerned. The word ‘marriage’ is irrelevant and immaterial, and should be stricken from any legal document or statute.

“So, if two (or more) people want to ‘marry,’ that’s their personal business, not the state’s. If they choose to sign a legal contract, the courts will honor it, but keep the word ‘marriage’ out of the discussion. And when we change the law to reflect this simple concept, then courtroom fights such as Mrs. Araguz’s will be history.”

Now, I would say there could still be some conflict and court cases if, as in the case, one party (the family) claims that another party (Nikki Araguz) wasn’t honest and tricked the other person into signing the contract under a false pretense. Still, I think Mr. Woods has the right idea: If marriage is “sacred” and people oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds, then take the government out of the marriage business.