I've been asking the question ever since she made the trip to Corpus Christi in September if Nikki Araguz Loyd would become the third transperson internationally to get a favorable trans marriage ruling, and fittingly we got our answer just before Valentine's Day.
Texas 13th Court of Appeals Chief Justice Rogelio Valdez today issued a landmark opinion that reversed Judge Randy Clapp's (R) odious 2011 ruling invalidating Nikki's marriage to her late husband Thomas Araguz III.
Clapp ruled that Araguz was born male and Texas’ 2005 marriage amendment
doesn’t recognize her marriage to a man, thus invalidating her 2008 marriage to Araguz.
Araguz was a
volunteer firefighter in Wharton, TX killed in the line of duty in
2010 and Nikki Araguz was denied his death benefits as a result of that ruling that Clapp cited the 1999 Littleton v. Prange case as his rationale for.
During the Texas Legislature's 2009 session, it passed a law adding documentation proving gender surgery to the acceptable list of documents people can present to get a Texas marriage license. That statute is what Nikki's legal team based their appeal on.
So what's the bottom line? In addition to this being huge news for the Texas trans community, it also goes back to Judge Clapp's court.
Houston attorney Kent
Rutter, the lead attorney for the appeal, said Thursday’s ruling marked
the first time that a court in Texas recognized that trans people have
the right to marry.
“What the decision today says is Texas law now recognizes that an
individual who has had a sex change is eligible to marry a person of the
opposite sex,” he said. “I think it’s a significant victory for trans
people in Texas.”
Nikki echoed the same sentiment in a euphoric phone conversation I had with her in the wake of the ruling that it was a significant win for the community. "The ruling not only strikes a what I and my legal team hope is a fatal blow to Littleton v Prange, we hope it results in Texas recognizing the transitioned gender identity of trans people in the Lone Star State."
It's even more delicious that this ruling taking a bite out of the odious Littleton v Prange case happened the day before Valentine's Day.