The Texas Supreme Court [official website] announced Friday that it will consider whether the state has jurisdiction to grant divorces to two same-sex couples who were legally married in Massachusetts. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott [official website] said in a brief that the state would benefit from the court ruling on the issue and declaring the state's same-sex marriage ban does not violate the US Constitution. In both cases, the state intervened out of a belief that, in deciding to ban same sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder], family law in Texas also requires the state and its agency to refuse to validate same-sex marriage through granting same-sex divorce. The court will hold oral arguments [AP report] on November 5.
In 2010 the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas [official website] upheld [JURIST report] Texas's same-sex marriage, ruling that it did not violate the US Constitution. However, several lawsuits have been filed in the wake of the recent US Supreme Court decision in the case of US v. Windsor [SCOTUSblog backgrounder; JURIST report]. The court ruled [opinion, PDF] 5-4 that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive] is unconstitutional. The ruling did not create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, but it entitles couples in lawfully recognized same-sex marriages to certain federal benefits. Earlier this month, Virginia joined the list of other states that have recently taken measures regarding same-sex marriage [JURIST report]. Last month, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] in Pennsylvania on behalf of 21 residents who wish to marry their same-sex partner or who are seeking recognition by the state of their out-of-state same-sex marriage. In March the ACLU of New Mexico filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] on behalf of two same-sex couples seeking the legal right to marry. In the same month Vermont's House of Representatives approved a bill [JURIST report] that would require out-of-state employers to provide the same health care coverage to same-sex couples as employees with an opposite-sex spouse. Also in March the Colorado House of Representative voted in favor of a bill [JURIST report] that would legalize civil unions in the state.