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Austin TX Family Law Blog

Monday, May 4, 2015

Same Sex Marriage in Texas

What is the status of same sex marriage in Texas?

Texas approved a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage in 2005, but that did not settle the issue in the state. The amendment defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. A challenge to the ban is pending in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. While that court has heard oral argument on the case, it might not rule until the United States Supreme Court considers the issue.

The United States Supreme Court recently heard arguments on the constitutionality of same sex marriage. Even if the highest court in the land authorizes same sex marriage, Texas Rep. Cecil Bell Jr. does not want the state to follow suit. Rep. Bell introduced a bill, the Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act, that would make the Texas Secretary of State solely responsible for issuing state marriage licenses. State and local employees would be barred from licensing or recognizing same sex marriages. The bill was the first of several dealing with same sex marriage this session to pass committee.

Recently, a lesbian couple successfully obtained a same sex marriage license from the Travis County Clerk after an Austin judge ordered that the two should be allowed to wed because one of the women has cancer. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton immediately asked the state Supreme Court to invalidate the marriage and block county clerks from issuing same sex marriage licenses, which the court agreed to do without addressing the women's marriage.

In another case, Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman ruled that Texas must recognize the same sex marriage of an Austin woman seeking rights to her deceased spouse's estate.

Attorney General Paxton also has sued the U.S. Labor Department to overturn changing the definition of spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act because it would include same sex couples. Paxton argued that the new rule would require Texas agencies to violate state law. A federal judge agreed and granted a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the rule in Texas and three other states that joined Paxton's lawsuit.

The family law attorneys at Stinson Moyle, PLLC, are board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Contact us today at (512)320-9070 to learn more about our skilled and effective representation in family law matters.


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