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Married gay couple can't divorce in Texas, appeals court rules

A Texas appeals court ruled Tuesday that a same-sex couple living in Texas may not get divorced here because this state recognizes only marriages between a man and a woman.

The 5th Court of Appeals overturned an earlier ruling in the case of two Dallas men, "J.B." and "H.B.," who sought a divorce from the appeals court in April.

"The court's ruling [Tuesday] strikes down an activist judge's attempt to take the law into her own hands," said Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, which had argued why this divorce should not be granted.

Peter Schulte, who represents J.B., said he was disappointed in the ruling.

"We respectfully disagree with the justices' opinion," he said. "However, we respect the process and are currently evaluating our options moving forward."

This is the first such case in Texas to be appealed to a higher court, and it could go to the Texas Supreme Court for a precedent-setting ruling. In 2005, Texas voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex civil unions and marriages.

H.B. and J.B. were married in Massachusetts in 2006, separated two years later and now want a divorce. They have no children.

In October, Judge Tena Callahan of the 302nd Family District Court in Dallas didn't dismiss the divorce case, ruling that Texas' gay-marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law. She didn't get to the point where she could grant a divorce because Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott intervened, calling the case an "apparent constitutional attack."

Abbott has also appealed a divorce granted this year to two Austin women who have an adopted child.

To read the complete article, visit www.star-telegram.com.

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