The Texas Supreme Court listened to oral arguments Tuesday on whether same-sex couples married in other states should be granted divorces in Texas.
A lawyer for the two same-sex couples argues the state's ban on gay marriage does not apply to divorce. The Attorney General's Office disagrees and says granting a same-sex divorce requires the recognition of the marriage.
James Scheske spoke first on behalf of two same-sex couples. A gay couple from Dallas and Lesbian couple from Austin got married in Massachusetts before moving to Texas. While their cases have differences the two were consolidated for the purposes of oral arguments.
"There's no question that my clients were married. They only place they can dissolve their marriage is in the place of residence and all Texans should be treated equally in that regard and that's what this case is about," Scheske said outside the Supreme Court of Texas. "The issue is whether all Texans have an equal right to get a divorce."
Oral arguments started promptly at 9 a.m. A small crowd gathered outside around a television screen to listen and watch the proceedings.
The Attorney General's Office does not comment on pending cases. During arguments Deputy Attorney General Jimmy Blacklock argued the state's position. Blacklock argued that under the Texas Constitution same-sex marriages are void.
Jonathan Saenz is the President of Texas Values. He watched the arguments closely.
"We thought the state attorney general's office did a fantastic job letting the court know that our statue and constitution is clear. If Texas recognizes marriage between one man and one woman there is no way for them to recognize same sex divorce," Saenz said. Saenz went on to say that the definition of marriage is at stake and for any state that defines marriage as one man and one woman.
"What a difficult issue they have before them," explained University of Texas Law Professor Jack Sampson. He's been teaching family law for 40 years. He made the trip to the Supreme Court to listen to oral arguments.
"I thought the Supreme Court did very well in treating this case seriously and demonstrated an awful lot of preparation ahead of time for the argument. They were fully prepared to give the case consideration," Sampson said.
Whatever decision is made Sampson says could potentially be appealed to the United States Supreme Court. Whether the high court would take such a case is a longshot.
A decision isn't expected until spring or summer of 2014.