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Court: Gay Couples Can't Divorce in Texas

Same-sex couples who were legally married in other states cannot obtain a divorce in Texas, said a state appeals court this week.

The 5th Texas Court of Appeals held that Dallas district court judge Tena Callahan did not have the authority to hear a same-sex divorce case. Judge Callahan asserted she had jurisdiction to hear the divorce case of two men who married in Massachusetts in 2006, and further held that Texas could not limit marriage to a union between a man and a woman.

Attorney General Greg Abbott intervened, arguing that Texas courts lack the authority to grant same-sex divorces. The appeals court agreed, ruling that courts cannot grant gay couples divorces because the state does not recognize gay marriage. Justice Kerry P. Fitzgerald wrote, "Texas law, embodied in our constitution and statutes, requires that a valid marriage must be a union of one man and one woman, and only when a union comprises one man and one woman can there be a divorce under Texas law."

The appeals court further held that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional.

Also, the court noted that the men had the option of having their marriage declared void. When one of the men argued that spousal support and community property laws applied only in divorce cases, the court responded that the issue should be addressed by the Legislature.

The gay couple, known only as J.B. and H.B., amicably separated after two years of marriage. They have no children and have agreed to distribution of their property. They are deciding whether to appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.

Source: CBS News "Court Says Gay Couples Can't Divorce in Texas" 9/1/10

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