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A/P : Divorce dilemma: Texas says gays can’t get divorce

21 April 2010

This is funny and sad at the same time.  I remember Garrison Keeler giving a soliloquy a while back about how same-sex couples are fortunate because they will enter into marriages that they had to fight for. 

Which is funny because after the “marriage” of the “couple” mentioned in this article, there didn’t seem to be anything in the relationship to fight for.  Even after filling up their “marriage” with the stuff that accrues within authentic marriages – joint property and an adopted child – their “marriage” couldn’t take the strain of nothing being left over to fight for

But it’s also sad because the couple adopted a child, and the child is caught up in the immaturity of his caretakers.  It’s also sad because “progressives” are going to agonize over the “rights” of the “couple,” while the person who is most helpless in all of this – the child – has no true advocate. 

DALLAS – After the joy of a wedding and the adoption of a baby came arguments that couldn’t be resolved, leading Angelique Naylor to file for divorce. That left her fighting both the woman she married in Massachusetts and the state of Texas, which says a union granted in a state where same-sex marriage is legal can’t be dissolved with a divorce in a state where it’s not.

A judge in Austin granted the divorce, but Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is appealing the decision. He also is appealing a divorce granted to a gay couple in Dallas, saying protecting the “traditional definition of marriage” means doing the same for divorce.

A state appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments in the Dallas case on Wednesday.

The Dallas men, who declined to be interviewed for this story and are known only as J.B. and H.B. in court filings, had an amicable separation, with no disputes on separation of property and no children involved, said attorney Peter Schulte, who represents J.B. The couple, who married in 2006 in Massachusetts and separated two years later, simply want an official divorce, Schulte said.

Here’s a gem.  Waaaaaaaait for it..

The drawn-out process has been frustrating for Naylor, who says she didn’t file for divorce as an equal rights statement — she just wants to get on with her life.

I hate to bring this up, but as all extended families know who have a divorced couple in their midst – it doesn’t work that way.  One does not “just get on with their lives,” after a divorce.  Optimistically, the effects are there for several years.  Realistically, the effects last for generations. 

(..Sorry).

“We didn’t ask for a marriage; we simply asked for the courtesy of divorce,” said Naylor, 39, of Austin, who married Sabina Daly in Massachusetts in 2004.

Is it just me, or does that sentence make absolutely no sense?  Think of a man (straight) filing for divorce saying outloud, “I didn’t ask for a marriage.  I simply want a divorce.”  Or a single person saying the same thing. 

[ Hint:  If someone is filing for a divorce, at some point, they asked for a marriage.  Seriously.  ]

That year, Massachusetts became the first state to let same-sex couples tie the knot. Now, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia also allow them.

Gay and lesbian couples who turn to the courts when they break up are getting mixed results across the nation. A Pennsylvania judge last month refused to divorce two women who married in Massachusetts, while New York grants such divorces even though the state doesn’t allow same-sex marriage.

Gee, didn’t see that coming.  Maybe everyone just assumed that people entering into same-sex marriages would be made of stronger stuff than people in conventional marriages, whose divorce rates are abysmal.  I guess they aren’t. 

“The bottom line is that same-sex couples have families and their families have the same needs and problems, but often don’t have the same rights,” said Jennifer Pizer, a lawyer for Lambda Legal, a national legal organization that promotes equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

That’s interesting, because rights are not what marriage is all about.  It’s about giving up one’s rights, to another person. 

“It really is an unenviable position that the courts have put these couples in,” said Karen Loewy, an attorney at the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.

Poor baby.  Everyone picks on LGBT people.  It’s the fault of non-LGBT people that the voters in the State of Texas haven’t legitimized same-sex marriage with their votes (heh), and that the Texas Attorney General understands that validating same-sex divorce is the same as validating same-sex marriage.  But the poor, poor, LGBT people – they are in no way suffering as a direct consequence of their own actions. 

Oh but wait – it gets better.  The Texas Attorney General has offered a compromise, and it appears to be unacceptable

Abbott, a Republican seeking re-election, declined to be interviewed for this story. He has argued in court filings that because the state doesn’t recognize gay marriage there can be no divorce, but a gay or lesbian Texas couple may have a marriage voided. Attorneys representing such couples argue that voiding a marriage here could leave it intact in other states, creating problems for property divisions and other issues.

“OK, you’re recommending voidance, but how does that work?” asked Jennifer Cochran, Naylor’s attorney. “Is it only void in Texas and can you void a marriage that’s valid in another state? The attorney general I feel didn’t answer those questions.”

And here is where it gets sad:

As for Naylor and Daly — the latter declined to comment — they’ve been trying to figure out what to do since separating in 2007 amid escalating arguments.

The couple, who had real estate-related businesses and renovated homes, toyed with the idea of one of them moving to a state where gay marriage is legal until a divorce is finalized, but that didn’t seem practical.

Naylor said that eventually, she and Daly worked out a custody arrangement for their now 4 1/2-year-old son. Naylor said that when she heard about the Dallas divorce, she thought it was worth a try and filed for her own, even though several attorneys she spoke with weren’t so sure.

Perhaps our progressive Episcopal clerics can develop rites of same-sex-divorce for them?

Be sure to read it all

– Elder

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