Texas OK's Gay Divorce

POSTED: Monday, October 5, 2009 - 7:49am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:58pm

A Dallas judge ruled Thursday that Texas' ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional as she cleared the way for two gay men to divorce. State District Judge Tena Callahan said the state's bans on same-sex marriage violates the constitutional guarantee to equal protection under the law.

While the Texas attorney general had stepped in the case to say that because a gay marriage isn't recognized in Texas, a Texas court can't dissolve one through divorce, Callahan denied the intervention. The two Dallas men in the case married three years ago in Massachusetts, the first state to allow gays to marry. "This is the first time that a same-sex marriage is allowed to be divorced in Texas, which is big," said Pete Schulte, the attorney who represents one of the men.

Schulte said Texas was the only place where they could file for divorce because they live in the state and have established residency. "I have a feeling there are going to be opponents who say this is going to allow the floodgates of gay marriage to open, and I disagree that," he said. "Gay marriage and gay divorce are two different things."

Attorney General Greg Abbott released a statement saying that he will appeal the ruling. "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 -- despite the fact that it was recently adopted by 75 percent of Texas voters."

Lashard Williams, a supporter of gay marriage, said he believes the judge's ruling is a step in the right direction. "One day, I might decide to get married, and I'm born and raised here in Dallas, and I'd like to do it here in Texas," he said.