Petitioner ends battle over same-sex divorce (The Beaumont Enterprise, 04/02/2003): A state judge here signed a non-suit Monday on a controversial same-sex divorce, ending a debate over whether the divorce was legal under Texas law. Russell Smith of Beaumont, who first called for the divorce, voluntarily withdrew his petition. The other man, John Anthony, also of Beaumont, did not object. Judge Tom Mulvaney of the 279th District Court signed the non-suit Monday. This effectively ends a battle between local lawyers and the Texas Attorney General's Office over whether the divorce is lawful in Texas. The two Beaumont men were joined in civil union under Vermont law in February 2002. An uncontested divorce was granted in early March, but was later vacated by Judge Mulvaney after Attorney General Greg Abbott intervened. Lawyers for the two men contended that the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which requires states to recognize marriages performed in other states, applied also to the civil union.
An unsurprising result, really. I expect that the men thought about how far they wanted to take this, how much it would cost, how long it would take, and decided that it just wasn't worth it to them to make the point for someone else. Since all of ther other connections would have to be separately and legally dissolved in any event, getting an actual divorce would only be symbolic for them.
I'd also imagine that the chief judicial administrators for the district yelled at Judge Mulvaney rather a lot after that decision.
Of course, they are right about the Full Faith and Credit Clause. Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution actually reads: Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof. In short, it applies to all public acts, records, and proceedings, not just marriage between one man and one woman.
Eventually, of course, someone will have the endurance and bloody-mindedness to take this issue all the way to the Supreme Court. I don't expect that the court will ever rule on it, though; if it seriously looks like it's going up that high, the Federal Marriage Amendment will almost certainly make its way out of the various committees it's been locked up in, and it will pass. It shouldn't -- it's a national admission of bigotry, after all -- but it will.
My, what a lot of things seem to be happening in Texas recently.Posted by iain at April 02, 2003 12:14 PM