Abbott, Perry want appeal of Dallas judge's decision to hear gay divorce case

Marilyn Tennissen Oct. 2, 2009, 3:16am


A state district judge in Dallas has ruled that the Texas ban on same-sex marriage violates the constitutional guarantee to equal protection under the law.

Family Court Judge Tena Callahan made the ruling Oct. 1 in the case of two men who sought a divorce.

The state prohibits same-sex marriage or civil unions through a constitutional amendment approved by voters as well as through the Texas Family Code.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott intervened in the case, arguing that a Texas court cannot grant a divorce when it cannot recognize the marriage in the first place.

But Judge Callahan ruled that her court could recognize -- and therefore dissolve -- a marriage that was legal in another jurisdiction.

Callahan was first elected to the 302nd Family District Court in Dallas County in 2006, the year more than 40 Democrats swept the county's judicial contests.

She is already at work on her campaign for reelection in 2010.

Abbott said he would appeal the ruling.

"The laws and constitution of the State of Texas define marriage as an institution involving one man and one woman," Abbott said in a prepared statement. "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. The Office of the Attorney General will appeal the court's ruling to defend the traditional definition of marriage that was approved by Texas voters."

Gov. Rick Perry also was critical of Callahan's decision, calling the ruling "flawed."

In a press release, Perry said Texas voters and lawmakers "have repeatedly affirmed" the one man-one woman definition of marriage.
"I am confident that Attorney General Abbott and the will of Texas voters will prevail, and traditional marriage will be upheld in our state," Perry said.

Should a Texas judge be able to hear a gay divorce case? Express your opinion by voting in our online poll on the Southeast Texas Record home page.

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