Several years ago, Texas adopted the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which give Texas the right to refuse to acknowledge legal same-sex marriages performed in other states. By not recognizing the marriages as valid, Texas law does not provide for divorce of same-sex married couples. This situation is sure to change at some point soon.

UDPATE: Indiana and Wisconsin reacted very quickly, filing their petitions in the United States Supreme Court on Tuesday, only five days after the Court of Appeals’ opinion was issued. With these two new cases, there are seven cases pending in the U.S. Supreme Court on this topic.
Continue Reading UPDATE: Judge Posner says it all on same-sex marriage equality (Chicago’s 7th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals)

Even in light of last week’s decision in US v. Windsor, ruling parts of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, many issues still remain in the evolving debate of marriage equality. One which I see almost on a daily basis involves the right or ability of same sex couples who are legally married to break up and divorce. In other words, a couple goes to a state that sanctions same sex marriage and has the ceremony performed, then that couple moves to Texas where they decide to break up. Because Texas has a state-version of DOMA that prohibits recognition of legal same sex marriages in other states, and because section 2 of the federal DOMA does not require Texas to give full faith and credit under the US Constitution to the marriage laws of other states, couples may be left with no remedy. In Texas, we cannot file a divorce for those legally married, same sex couples. If they own property together, we cannot use our state’s marital property division laws to apportion their property. We cannot help a same sex spouse who, through disability or lack of earning capacity, cannot support himself or herself after depending on the other spouse for financial support during the marriage.
Continue Reading Last week’s decision in US v. Windsor

The US Supreme Court issued their decision today in US v. Windsor regarding the federal government’s right to deny benefits to legally married same sex couples. SCOTUS ruled that section three of the Defense of Marriage Act, the section that prohibits same sex federal benefits, is unconstitutional on the grounds of equal protection. This is a monumentous day for same sex couples – giving same sex marriages equal status with heterosexual marriages at the federal government level. This decision is not binding on Texas state law, however. Section 2 of DOMA says that states do not have to recognize same sex marriages from other states, and that section still stands today. The Windsor opinion gives hope for the future of the rights of LGBT couples to marry (and divorce).
Continue Reading Love Wins: Section 3 of DOMA is Overturned

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.
Continue Reading How is the gay marriage controversy impacting the state of Texas and the family law practice area? What issues do attorneys need to be aware of?