Dallas judge paves way for gay couple to get divorce

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by By ROY APPLETON/The Dallas Morning News

wfaa.com

Posted on October 1, 2009 at 8:19 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 19 at 6:16 PM

File / DMN
Tena Callahan

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In a first for Texas and a sweeping rejection of the state's ban on gay marriage, a judge has cleared the way for two gay Dallas men to divorce.

A voter-approved state constitutional amendment and the Texas Family Code prohibit same-sex marriages or civil unions. And the Texas attorney general had intervened in the two men's divorce case, arguing that since a gay marriage isn't recognized in Texas, a Texas court can't dissolve one through divorce.

But Dallas state District Judge Tena Callahan ruled Thursday that the state's bans on same-sex marriage violates the constitutional guarantee to equal protection under the law.

She denied the attorney general's intervention and said her court "has jurisdiction to hear a suit for divorce filed by persons legally married in another jurisdiction."

"This is huge news. We're ecstatic," said Dallas attorney Peter Schulte, who represents the man who filed the divorce. The man, identified in court documents as J.B., asked that he and his former partner not be identified.

Schulte said the ruling was a surprise and that he hoped to have a divorce order for the judge to sign in the "next few weeks."

In a prepared statement, Attorney General Greg Abbott said he would appeal the ruling "to defend the traditional definition of marriage that was approved by Texas voters.

"The laws and constitution of the State of Texas define marriage as an institution involving one man and one woman. Today's ruling purports to strike down that constitutional definition - despite the fact that it was recently adopted by 75 per cent of Texas voters."

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