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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 29, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 17
Texas Republicans want to strip Transgender marriage rights
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Texas Republicans want to strip Transgender marriage rights

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A bill introduced by Republican legislators would strip Trans people in Texas of their right to get married.

Texas Sen. Tommy Williams says he has nothing against Trans people; he is just trying to clean up the 2009 state law banning same-sex marriage.

'The Texas Constitution,' Williams told the Associated Press, 'clearly defines marriage as between one man and one woman.' The bill introduced by Williams would prohibit county and district clerks from using a court order recognizing sex reassignment as documentation for a marriage license.

If passed, the measure would effectively require state officials to recognize a 1999 state appeals court decision that said in marriage cases, gender is assigned at birth and sticks with a person throughout their life even if they have sex reassignment.

In 2009, Texas became one of the last states in the country to allow Transgender people to use proof of sex reassignment to get a marriage license.

'It would be terrible for Texas, now that it finally caught up with the rest of the country, to take a step back,' said Shannon Minter, an attorney for the Transgender Law and Policy Institute.

Minter said most states allow marriages for people who have had sex reassignment surgery.

Some Trans rights advocates believe that the Texas proposal would not only prevent Trans people from marrying in the future, but also open up the possibility that any current marriage could be nullified.

'It appears the goal is to try to enshrine a really horrifying ruling and make it law in the state of Texas,' said John Nechman, a Houston attorney whose law firm does work for the LGBT community.

Texas Governor Rick Perry's spokesman, Mark Miner, said the governor never intended to allow Transgender people to get married.

The sex reassignment provision was 'sneaked through' on a larger piece of legislation Perry signed two years ago regarding marriage licensing rules for county and district clerks, Miner claimed.

Perry, a Republican, supports efforts to 'clarify the unintended consequences' of that law, Miner added.

'The governor has always believed and advocated that marriage is between a man and a woman,' Miner said.

In attempting to set the national standard for opposing same-sex marriage, Texas officials have set up a nightmare of legal confusion.

In April 2010, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed appeals in two divorce cases involving same-sex couples who were legally married in other states.

Abbott argued that allowing same-sex couples to divorce would tacitly admit that they were, in fact, married - which is contrary to the Texas constitution.

In May 2010, a Trans Lesbian legally married her girlfriend in San Antonio, because her birth certificate still identified her as a male.

According to the San Antonio City Clerk, a Texas appeals court ruling in Littleton v. Prange states that the sex specified on an individual's birth certificate is determinative.

In July 2010, Transgender widow Nikki Araguz was sued by her late husband's relatives for her share of his estate.

The relatives claimed that although Araguz has had sex reassignment surgery, she was identified as male on her birth certificate, and so her marriage was never valid under Texas law.

The issue is currently being litigated, with a hearing set for May 15.

'This is crazy. I feel like this [bill] is a personal attack on me,' Araguz told AP. 'If this bill is passed, it essentially means women like myself who have had reconstructive surgery will not be allowed to marry their heterosexual partners.'

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