Texas Supreme Court justices closely questioned lawyers Tuesday over whether gay couples married in other states can be divorced here.
The litigation before the court involves two gay couples who were married in Massachusetts and sought divorces in Texas – one in Austin, and one in Dallas.
Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is now running for governor, intervened in the cases, which were consolidated for court consideration. Abbott’s office argues that gay couples can’t be divorced in Texas because the state bans gay marriage.
“There is no way to grant a divorce without recognizing a marriage,” James D. Blacklock, deputy attorney general for legal counsel, argued before the court Tuesday.
The lawyer for the couples, James J. Scheske of Austin, said his clients were legally married elsewhere and have a right to divorce in the state in which they live.
“Marriage and divorce are opposites of each other,” he said.
The attorney general’s office said that gay couples would have the alternative of voiding their marriages in Texas. Justices, however, raised questions about the confusion that could cause since it’s a different legal standard from divorce.
A marriage that is void is seen as invalid from its start, and justices wondered how that could affect obligations that couples take on with marriage.