An attorney from one of the gay men attempting to get a divorce in Texas has argued that it would actually strengthen the state’s gay marriage ban.

The unnamed men married in Massachusetts in 2006 and then returned to Dallas. A judge granted them a divorce last October but the decision is being contested by attorney-general Greg Abbott.

Mr Abbott argues that allowing them to divorce would mean that Texas recognises gay marriage. The state has an explicit constitutional ban on the practice, backed by 75 per cent of voters when it passed in 2005.

Yesterday, Jody Scheske, an attorney for one of the men, told a state appeals court that far from breaching the ban, allowing the couple a divorce would actually endorse it.

Mr Scheske said: “My client is a married man and he needs a divorce. But for the actions of the attorney general, there would already be one less same-sex marriage in Texas.”

The partner who filed for divorce is unable to obtain one in Massachusetts because he is a Dallas County resident.

Jimmy Blacklock, assistant solicitor general for the attorney general, argued: “The parties lack standing to file a divorce because they are not married. If you are not party to a marriage, you cannot file for a divorce.”

Mr Abbott is also challenging a divorce granted to a lesbian couple.

Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly, who married in Massachusetts in 2004 and are parents to an adopted child, were granted a divorce by a judge in Austin in February.

But Mr Abbott said: “A divorce is an ending or a termination of a valid legal marriage.

“In this instance there was no valid legal marriage recognised by the state of Texas. Texas can’t have a faulty precedent on the books that validates an illegal law.”