Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage, but its Supreme Court upheld a same-sex divorce on Friday.
The 5-3 decision ruled against the state of Texas, which had argued that the divorce granted to Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly by a district court would “implicitly recognize” the existence of same-sex marriage. Justice Jeffrey Brown wrote against the claims in the court opinion on the grounds that the State lacked standing to intervene in the divorce.
Naylor and Daly were married in Massachusetts in 2004, and then moved to Travis County in Texas where they filed for divorce in 2010. Aware of the legal complications of divorcing in a state that does not allow same-sex marriage, a district court granted the couple “a valid and subsisting divorce.” The next day, the state appealed the decision in order “to defend the constitutionality of Texas and federal laws,” which only grant divorce to married people of opposite sexes.
Today, the court denied the State has standing to appeal, since Texas was not a party of record in the divorce and did not protest it on time. “The record reveals that the State, while fully aware of the public import of this private dispute, had adequate opportunity to intervene and simply failed to diligently assert its rights,” Brown wrote in his ruling. “This is not a case in which the State was unaware of the litigation or blindsided by the result.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott was the state’s attorney general when Texas petitioned the divorce. In a Friday statement Abbot responded to the ruling,”The Texas Supreme Court’s decision is disappointing and legally incorrect. The Court mistakenly relied on a technicality to allow this divorce to proceed. “