Texans who are fighting for same-sex marriage are also fighting for same-sex divorce. This idea may at first seem self-contradictory, but it’s true. Many of the most important rights that come with legal recognition of a marriage don’t become fully apparent unless or until the couple decides to split up.
Recently, a man who became the first openly gay bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church announced that he and his husband were getting a divorce. He was elected as a bishop in 2003, in a move that created controversy within the church.
The man had been married to a woman, with whom he had two daughters, but was divorced in 1986. That same year, he came out as gay. He and his husband were together for 25 years.
In an article he wrote for website the Daily Beast, the bishop noted that the reasons same-sex couples split up are the same reasons that heterosexual couples do. All people who get married intend to stay together forever, he wrote, but not all of them can.
However, currently there is a big difference between a same-sex couple’s break-up and a married straight couple’s divorce in Texas. Only the couple whose union is legally recognized is entitled to equitable property division, alimony and other important rights of divorce. When the other couple splits up, the parties are basically on their own. If one party to a legally recognized marriage stayed home to manage the household while the other worked, the one who stayed at home may be entitled to alimony. If the couple’s union was not legally recognized, the disadvantaged party may have no such right.
Until Texas begins to recognize same-sex marriages and/or divorces, domestic partnerships may help fill in some of the gaps. A Texas attorney who has been keeping up with this fast-changing area of the law can help people in same-sex relationships to understand their rights.
Source: Time.com, “First Openly Gay Bishop to Divorce,” Charlotte Alter, May 5, 2014