Updated: Thursday, 17 Dec 2009, 1:42 PM CST
Published : Wednesday, 16 Dec 2009, 3:31 PM CST
AUSTIN (KXAN) - After fighting for the right to marry, Angelique Naylor is now fighting for the right to divorce. And, while Texas has heard a few same-sex divorce cases, Naylor's is the first where the spouse is contesting the legal split.
Back in 2004, Naylor and her partner went to Massachusetts to get married, the only state at the time that recognized same-sex marriage. The Texas couple then adopted a boy, built businesses together and bought joint property.
Five years later, they are now going through divorce court; at least that is what Naylor hopes.
"It's not about special rights," said Naylor. "It's about equal rights. I want my divorce like the 15 divorce cases that I witnessed today between men and women."
However, the opposition to Naylor's divorce is not coming from the courts or even politicians just yet, but rather her spouse. According to Naylor, her wife is arguing that the divorce should not be recognized since same-sex marriage in Texas is not legal.
"On the day that we got married, she wanted equal rights," she said. "On the day that we adopted our child, she wanted equal rights. She's just trying to tell the judge she doesn't have to divide those assets with me."
Family law expert and equal rights activist, Anne Wynne, said the decision Texas judges make in these cases in the coming years will have major implications for the state.
"It has huge implications," she said. "It means they get treated like every other citizen in this state."
However, Wynne admits that Naylor's spouse has some heavy arsenal in her case - the Texas constitution.
"On the books right now, we have a law that said same-sex people cannot marry, nor will this state recognize a marriage of same-sex couples that came from another state," she said.
In Dallas, a judge granted a same-sex couple the right to divorce. Attorney General Greg Abbott quickly stepped in, however, and said the state wouldn't recognize same-sex divorce. The office later released a statement regarding this case:
"Under the law and constitution of the State of Texas, marriage is a union between one man and one woman. As a result, when two people of the same sex seek to terminate a relationship that they entered into in another state, the proper legal mechanism is voidance--not divorce. In the Austin case, one of the two parties is properly following Texas law and is seeking to void their out-of-state relationship. That is contrasted by the Dallas case, where both parties improperly sought a divorce--which left the State no choice but to intervene and defend Texas law. Because one of the parties in the Austin case is properly pursuing voidance, this office will closely monitor the case and, if necessary, take appropriate steps to defend the Texas Constitution."
"More states will be legalizing same-sex marriage," said Wynne. "As more and more of those people move here, we're going to have this issue come up over and over."
As for Naylor, she said she never meant to make history.
"I'm just a citizen who wants to get a divorce, and it's going to be a little harder for me to do that."