Texas Supreme Court Hears Same-Sex Divorce Cases

Last Friday, the Texas Supreme Court announced plans to hear two cases in which same-sex couples married in Massachusetts are seeking a divorce in Texas.  As of this time, Texas does not recognize gay marriage as a state.  As reported by the Austin-American Statesman:

The cases, involving couples from Austin and Dallas, will be the first test of Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court determined this summer that marriage laws can be unconstitutional if they relegate legally married same-sex couples to second-class status.

Oral argument will be Nov. 5, and a ruling isn’t expected for months afterward.

Attorney General Greg Abbott argues that Texas law not only limits marriage to opposite-sex couples, it forbids any action — including divorce — that recognizes or validates a same-sex marriage obtained out of state.

Lawyers for the couples, two Austin women and two Dallas men who were married in Massachusetts, say Abbott lacks the authority to intervene in their lives because divorce is a private matter that does not obligate Texas to recognize same-sex marriages performed in another state.

But if Texas can deny same-sex couples the right to divorce, then the state’s ban on gay marriage should be overturned, the couples argue.

In a legal climate in which the Supreme Court of the United States this summer overturned portions of DOMA, the repercussions of acknowledging or denying a divorce for a state where same-sex marriage is unrecognized will be widespread.  One aspect to be watched will be how children of same-sex couples will be addressed in regards to custody, visitation, and parents rights.  The state may be able to address the issue as they would unmarried straight co-parents, but the murky waters of this issue are yet to be resolved.  For the sake of children whose parents are going through a divorce, you hope the courts can delicately and deftly navigate the legal aspects involved.  It will be even more crucial that our judges and lawyers approach these discussions with compassion and support in the proceeding months.

Monday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Teen Shooter Targeted Two Classmates He Believed Bullied Him at Taft Union High School in CA, NY Daily News

A student who believed he was the victim of bullying opened fire with a shotgun in a central California high school on Thursday, critically wounding one student and narrowly missing another before being talked down by a “heroic” teacher, law enforcement said.  The teacher suffered a pellet to the head and is expected to recover, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said during a news conference. At least two other students were lightly hurt in the panic after shots erupted around 9:30 a.m. inside Taft Union High School, in Taft, Calif., about 40 miles south of Bakersfield.

Youngblood told reporters that he could not confirm whether the suspect had indeed been bullied at the school.

Phoenix Group Targets Graffiti Laws, The Arizona Republic

As Arizona cities, lobbyists, unions and activist groups firm up their legislative goals for 2013, a group of Phoenix residents is looking for a little help with graffiti.

Phoenix’s Anti-Graffiti Task Force hopes the Legislature, which convenes Monday, will consider a proposal that includes additional penalties for offenders and new requirements for stores that sell graffiti materials.

Vatican Criticizes Court Ruling on Gays’ Children, The Seattle Times

The Vatican is pressing its opposition to gay marriage, insisting Saturday that children should grow up with a father and a mother after Italy’s high court upheld a lower court ruling and granted custody of a child to his gay mother.

In its decision Friday, the Court of Cassation said there was no “scientific certainty or experience-based data” to support the father’s claims that the child’s development was being damaged by living with his mother and her female partner. Such an argument was “mere prejudice,” the court said.