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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 26, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 26
Texas Supreme Court OKs same-sex divorce
Section One
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Texas Supreme Court OKs same-sex divorce

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Texas Supreme Court allowed the divorce of a same-sex couple to stand in a June 19 ruling, turning down an appeal by the state, which argued that granting the divorce would tacitly recognize same-sex marriage.

In the 5-3 ruling, the court found that then-Attorney General Greg Abbott had no standing to appeal the decision of a lower state court granting the divorce. The court's majority explicitly excluded discussion of the larger issue of marriage rights and focused only on whether the Texas attorney general's office had a right to appeal.

'We would appreciate the opportunity to address the merits of this issue of critical importance at this critical juncture in our nation's history,' Justice Jeff Brown wrote in the majority opinion. 'Yet we must respect the bounds of our jurisdiction by addressing only the questions immediately before the Court.'

The Texas attorney general's office did not intervene in the case until after a Travis County judge granted the divorce, the ruling noted. Therefore, the justices concluded, the state was not 'blindsided,' as it claimed, but had, in fact, been monitoring the case from the sidelines for months.

Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly were married in Massachusetts in 2004, subsequently moved to Texas, and were divorced by order of a Texas county court in 2010.

Abbott, who was attorney general at the time of the divorce and is now governor, appealed the divorce on the grounds that Texas did not recognize the couple's marriage in the first place and therefore could not dissolve a marriage that did not exist.

Abbott, who was also a state Supreme Court justice before running for attorney general, was unhappy with the high court's decision.

'The Court mistakenly relied on a technicality to allow this divorce to proceed,' Abbott said in a statement June 19. 'Importantly, the Supreme Court did not address the Texas constitution's definition of marriage - and marriage in Texas remains an institution between one man and one woman.'

Like Abbott, all the Texas Supreme Court justices are Republicans. The Travis County judge who originally granted the divorce at issue was a Democrat. Travis County, which contains Austin, the state capital and the University of Texas, is a Democratic stronghold and is considered one of the few 'liberal' areas in the state.

Earlier this year, another Travis County judge ordered county officials to issue a marriage license to a Lesbian couple, who then became the first same-sex couple to marry since Texas passed a constitutional ban on Gay marriage in 2005.

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