Gays can get divorced in Texas, court rules

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A court has ruled that same-sex couples should be able to get divorced in Texas – despite a continuing ban on same-sex marriage.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled today to resolve a legal loophole in the state, which meant that same-sex couples could end up ‘trapped’ in marriages.

As Texas continues to ban all recognition of same-sex marriages, gay couples who marry elsewhere before moving to Texas can find themselves with a federally-recognised marriage that Texas pretends doesn’t exist.

This leads to a quirk under US law, which usually require couples to divorce in the state they reside in – as Texas doesn’t recognise the marriages as valid in order to end them.

In a 5-3 ruling today, the state’s Supreme Court upheld a previous decision, finding that two lesbians who married in Massachusetts should be able to divorce in Texas.

Governor Greg Abbott had claimed previously that divorcing the couple would mean acknowledging they had married in the first place, which violates Texas law – but he was found to have no standing in the case.

The ruling does not extend the right to same-sex marriage or recognition of same-sex marriage in any way.

Judge Orlando Garcia struck down the state’s marriage ban in February, but stayed the ruling, meaning it will not come into effect until the appeals process is concluded.

Abbott, who was the state’s Attorney General before being elected Governor, has been accused of deliberately stalling his appeal to postpone marriages for as long as possible – but equality could come sooner rather than later, as the US Supreme Court is set to rule on the issue nationally this month.