- February 14, 2014
Yesterday, Chief Justice Rogelio Valdez of the 13th District Court of Appeals in Texas issued a landmark ruling in favor of Nikki Araguz, a Houston area widow. When Araguz’s husband, a volunteer firefighter, was killed in the line of duty, she was initially denied the requisite death benefits. Why? Araguz is transgender, it was argued, and therefore her marriage to her husband could not truly be valid.
However, the appeals court concluded that a transgender person's marriage was not presumed to be a same-sex marriage and thus invalid under Texas law, and that Nikki should have the opportunity to demonstrate that the state should recognize her legal sex. While the case will now return to the trial court for further proceedings, as Araguz’s lawyer put it after the decision, “I think it’s a significant victory for trans people in Texas.”
As always, HRC is monitoring the ongoing landscape for LGBT equality in the courts. Stay tuned to HRC’s blog for the latest on this and dozens of other cases across the country.