Will Texas Supreme Court Settle Same-Sex Divorce Debate?

May 12, 2011, 11:22 ET from Liberty Institute

Liberty Institute Asks High Court to Review Same-Sex Divorce Cases

DALLAS, May 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Liberty Institute just filed briefs in two same-sex divorce cases asking the Texas Supreme Court to grant the petitions for review in both cases in order to resolve the conflicting rulings of the Texas courts of appeal. Liberty Institute represents State Rep. Warren Chisum, who authored Texas' 2005 constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and former State Sen. Todd Staples, who sponsored the bill in the Texas Senate. Voters overwhelmingly passed the amendment in 2005.

"The district judges' rulings granting same-sex divorces illegitimately overturned the will of more than two million Texans and their elected officials," said Kelly Shackelford, president/CEO of Liberty Institute. "The debate over same-sex marriage and divorce should play out in our democratic institutions and should not be short-circuited by activist judges."

Liberty Institute is asking the Texas Supreme Court to review a case originating in Dallas and another in Austin in which same-sex divorces were granted to couples "married" in Massachusetts and Canada.

In the Dallas case, District Judge Tena Callahan granted a divorce to two men who were "married" in Massachusetts and filed for divorce in Texas. The Fifth Court of Appeals overturned Judge Callahan's ruling after hearing the case, in which Liberty Institute shared oral argument time with the Texas Attorney General's office and disputed the ruling below as contradictory to both the Texas Constitution and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Liberty Institute argued that granting a "same-sex divorce" violates Texas law because doing so recognizes a "same-sex marriage" performed in another state.

In the Austin case, a district judge denied the Attorney General's attempt to intervene in the case to defend Texas law and granted two "married" women a divorce. The Third Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's decision denial of the Attorney General's intervention and upheld the same-sex divorce.

"The question of how a state defines the institution of marriage must be decided by the people and their representatives, not activist judges," said Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Institute, who argued alongside the Attorney General's office. "Texas has the right to protect traditional marriage, to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, and to declare such unions void under state law."

Experts believe the Texas Supreme Court will accept both of these cases in order to resolve the conflicting rulings by the Third and Fifth Courts of Appeals, as leaving the matter unresolved would leave the definition of marriage unsettled in the Texas courts.

Liberty Institute is a public policy and non-profit legal firm dedicated to protecting freedoms and strengthening families.

View the briefs online at http://tinyurl.com/SameSexDivorce.

SOURCE Liberty Institute