The gay marriage controversy is forcing all citizens of the state of Texas to reexamine what “marriage” means. Is marriage simply a religious concept implemented through the government that supports the traditional one man/one woman viewpoint? Certainly that is the current state of the law in Texas.  But many citizen voters seem to be expanding their consideration to include broader definitions of relationships. Gay marriage is one of these broader definitions.  Many citizen voters seem to be more willing to accept a civil definition of a relationship which the government sanctions.  Presently we call this “marriage” but many would prefer to call this a “civil union” to avoid conflict with traditional religious notions of marriage. Reasons for this expansion of viewpoint may be the recognition that gay relationships have received on television and in the media as well as the increasing likelihood that our neighbors, friends, and relatives may be gay and want to be married.

Another trend related to the gay marriage trend is the trend, especially among young people, away from traditional ceremonial marriage. Some have a jaded viewpoint of marriage because of experience with divorce and, therefore, simply don’t want to get married at all leaving themselves free to move in and out of relationships without the complications marriage brings. Others find that common law marriage has become more societally acceptable than in the past.

The country and maybe even our world awaits the imminent rulings from the US Supreme Court on the Defense of Marriage Act. The Court will take its summer break at the end of the month, so most Court scholars expect decisions in the two gay-issue cases to come down in the next 7 days.  We are watching and will report.

 

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.