Court to hear gay divorce in Texas, despite gay marriage ban

Thu Oct 1, 2009 10:17pm EDT
 
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DALLAS (Reuters) - A judge in Dallas ruled on Thursday that the state court on which she sits has the jurisdiction to hear a divorce suit by a gay couple who were married outside Texas where same-sex marriages are banned.

Dallas District Judge Tena Callahan said in the ruling that her court "has jurisdiction to hear a suit for divorce filed by persons legally married in another jurisdiction and who meet the residency and other prerequisites required to file for divorce in Dallas County, Texas."

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott immediately said he would appeal the ruling in the latest battle over gay marriage in the United States.

"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," Abbott said in a statement.

"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," he said.

The divorce suit was filed in Dallas by an unidentified man and no details were available on where he had been married. An attorney for the man could not be reached for comment.

Forty U.S. states have laws explicitly prohibiting gay marriages and the issue, along with abortion rights, is among the most divisive in America.

Same-sex marriage is banned in Texas by a voter-approved state constitutional amendment.

A handful of U.S. states, mostly in the northeast, have approved gay marriage though it is being challenged in Maine.

The District of Columbia city council voted on May 5 to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where those unions are legal, even although gay marriages cannot be conducted in Washington D.C., the U.S. capitol.