Karen Ocamb

Dallas Voice's John Wright on the big marriage news out of Texas

Filed By Karen Ocamb | October 03, 2009 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Dallas Voice, gay divorce, gay marriage, John Wright, marriage equality

By now, you've probably heard about the big news coming out of Texas. A state district court judge considering whether a gay couple married in Massachusetts could get a divorce in Texas, which has a constitutional state ban against same sex marriage, ruled that the state ban is unconstitutional.

Here's the top of
Dallas Voice news editor John Wright's article
published late Thursday night:

"A Dallas state district judge has ruled that she has jurisdiction to grant a divorce to a same-sex couple that was married in Massachusetts but now resides in Texas, in what an attorney representing one of the parties is calling a major victory for LGBT equality.

After the divorce petition was filed in January, the state Attorney General's Office intervened in the case, arguing that Texas courts may not grant divorces to same-sex couples because the state doesn't recognize same-sex marriages.

But Judge Tena Callahan, a Democrat who presides over Dallas County's 302nd Family District Court, ruled Thursday, Oct. 1 that Texas' constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage -- approved by voters in 2005 -- violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"That's what's significant," said attorney Peter A. Schulte, who represents the man who filed for a divorce from his husband. "It's the first time in Texas that a court has acknowledged that there is an issue with the way our statute and our constitution is drafted when it comes to same-sex couples. That is huge for the community.""

I called John Wright in the morning to ask him about the reaction on the ground to this extraordinary news.

John told me that the news broke late - just as they were getting ready to go to press. That they "stopped the presses" to get this story written and published in print is a testament to the good old fashion journalistic values we reporters in the LGBT community exercise - even as so many in both the LGBT and straight communities continue to dismiss us "bar rags."

Anyway - John said that he didn't have time to get reaction for the story - but he followed up this morning on Facebook.

"People are pretty excited that maybe this is the first glimmer of hope in Texas, with regard to marriage. I don't know how it will end up - it could end up badly with a negative precedent from one of the appellate courts. Our constitutional amendment have never really been interpreted and it's so broadly written. Who knows."

He sighed.

"But at the same time, people are anxious and tired. It's like with Obama - people are tired of waiting and don't want to hear the go-slow, small steps. But people are excited about Tena Callahan [the Democratic presiding judge who made the ruling]. It's interesting. Dallas turned blue in 2006 - Tena was elected that year. So this is really politically a broader thing happening. She did not run like some radical ally - but she was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats. And that was the election when the Democrats took over the courthouse in Dallas. We may be seeing the fruits of that labor."

John also thinks this is "part of a broader shift occurring in the LGBT community and in the general political arena," around the passage of Prop 8 in California and the election of Barack Obama. He pointed to the widely covered raid of the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth.

And when I mentioned how interesting this is in the state where Gov. Rick Perry is talking about seceding from the union, John chuckled.

"All the other states are debating same sex marriage. In Texas, we have to debate it in terms of divorce. It's like - we're different. But it's better than not debating it at all."


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Fantastic Karen AND John! SO AMAZING! For me, this is the most exciting news to come out of Texas since... oh well ever!

I wrote my usual slanty version of all this on Lez Get Real Blog at

http://lezgetreal.com/?p=21902

and titled
AG Silly them Risk fueled by Homophobia...

Awesome, Karen! Thanks for sharing this with us! Its great to have this view on the events.

I think the dissolution of a marriage is a sad and solemn event, but refusing to recognize that such a union existed in the first place and therefore can't be dissolved is even sadder. Being granted this divorce will allow the two men the chance to move on and put this behind them. Its a simple recognition of their humanity, and recognition of the true gravity of such a moment in someone's life.