In Texas it is widely known that prior to June 26, 2015 same-sex marriage was not permitted nor was it recognized if a couple had a valid marriage from another state. That all changed on June 26, 2015 when the United States Supreme Court held that was unconstitutional. The impact of this decision does not merely affect people wishing to get married or those wishing to get divorced, but also impacts the people who had their marriages declared void in Texas.
Let me step back a bit and explain. If you, as a same-sex couple, had gotten married in another state, then lived in Texas, then separated, your marriage was in limbo. You had a couple of choices, either one person moves to the state where you got married so that you could get a divorce, try to file for divorce here in Texas anyway, or file to have your marriages voided. Most couples did not choose to have one party move to the state of marriage so that they could get a divorce so they were left with trying to file for divorce in Texas or filing to have a Court declare the marriage void. If you opted to try to file for divorce you ran the risk of the Texas Attorney General intervening and getting your petition dismissed (which happened). But what happens now to all the people who had their marriage declared void? That is still up for debate.
The United States Constitution states:
Full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records and judicial Proceedings of every other State…
However, in 1996, President Clinton enacted the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) which states in pertinent part:
No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same-sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.
DOMA essentially overrode the United States Constitution with regard to same-sex marriages performed in other states being recognized by States that do not allow same-sex marriages. However, June 26, 2015 the United States Supreme Court not only that same-sex couples can now marry in ALL states but also held:
It follows that the Court also must hold—and it now does hold—that there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character.
Thereby overturning DOMA. With DOMA being overturned, the question is are these “voided” marriages really voided or are they still valid marriages that need to be dissolved through proper means?