Two men won't be able to turn their Massachusetts marriage into a Texas divorce, the Dallas Court of Appeals ruled today. At Attorney General Greg Abbott's request, the court overruled a lower court's order that granted them a divorce.
When a Dallas family court moved forward with the case last October, Abbott appealed, saying that "the laws and constitution of the State of Texas define marriage as an institution involving one man and one woman" and that the court's decision "purports to strike down that constitutional definition." The appeals court agreed with Abbott's argument — essentially, that the state can't dissolve a marriage that it doesn't recognize — and asked the lower court today to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. Since October, Gov. Rick Perry has also come out against the court's ruling. (Download the appellate court decision above.)
Randall Terrell, the political director of gay rights advocacy group Equality Texas, says the language interpreting the Constitution in the Dallas court's ruling is "tailor-made" for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. That is, "if the parties have the financial wherewithal and the desire to push this case that far." If the men decide to appeal today's ruling — and their lawyer Pete Schulte says they haven't yet made that decision — the next stop would first be the Texas Supreme Court.
Two women, also married in Massachusetts, have a similar case pending in Travis County. A judge granted their divorce earlier this year, after declining Abbott's request to intervene. Their case is currently on appeal.
In February, a Texas Tribune/University of Texas poll found that 28 percent of Texans support gay marriage, while another 35 percent support civil unions.