A gay couple who legally married in Massachusetts may be denied the right to divorce in the current home state.
The men, who have not been identitified, got married in Cambridge in 2006, two years after Massachusetts legalised same-sex marriage.
Earlier this week, citing “discord or conflict of personalities,” one of the men asked a state court in Dallas for a divorce.
It is thought to be the first such case in Texas, though a previous case involving a civil union formed in Vermont failed.
The men may have to return to Massachusetts and establish residency before they can divorce.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said:
“In the State of Texas, marriage is – and has always been – a union between one man and one woman.
“To prevent other states from imposing their values on this state, Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a Constitutional amendment specifically defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
“Because the parties’ Massachusetts-issued arrangement is not a marriage under Texas law, they are asking a Texas court to recognise – and dissolve – something that does not legally exist.”
The lawyer acting for the man seeking a divorce told the Dallas Morning News that he will argue that the men have rights under Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. The so-called Full Faith and Credit Clause provides, in part, that states recognise contracts from other states.
However, in 1996 Congress passed the Defence of Marriage Act.
States are not required to “treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state.”
DOMA also prevents the federal government from gay and lesbian relationships as marriage “for any purpose,” even if the marriage is recognised by one of the states.
President Barack Obama is committed to the repeal of DOMA, but does not support gay marriage.
According to a statement on civil rights on the White House website the administration will pass legislation “that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognised unions.”