By: E. A. Putman
True Story. I met my husband and we hit it off by singing our best acapella version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by the legendary British rock group Queen. When the biographical musical drama film of the same name was released a few weeks later, we vowed to see the film. Since then I have been fascinated with the creativity of Queen and the musical genius (or madness) of it’s lead singer Freddie Mercury, the once-closeted member of the LGBTQIA community.
“I Want to Break Free” is a song that appears on Queen’s 1984 The Works album. Written by bass guitarist John Deacon, the song has several interpretations. Due to the band members dressing in drag in the controversial music video, many people associated it with a person coming out as a member of the LGBTQIA community, though Freddie Mercury later declared, “It’s got nothing to do with the gay thing.”
A more literal interpretation alluded to by Mr. Mercury is that it’s someone “who wants to break free from whatever problems he’s got” including feeling trapped in their relationship–marriage (*in my family law attorney voice*).
Pride Month is an annual celebration of the LGBTQIA community during the month of June to commemorate the Stonewall riots. It is not without coincidence that during the same month 46 years later, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that that the Fourteenth Amendment required a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex.
The 5–4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges meant that State officials were required to perform and recognize the marriages of same-sex couples on the same terms and conditions as the marriages of opposite-sex couples, with all the accompanying rights and responsibilities, including the dissolution of the marriage.
Though the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country during the summer of 2015, several counties in Texas initially refused to issue marriage licenses. Nonetheless, since same-sex marriage is legal in the state, that means same-sex couples are given the same rights as heterosexual couples in an LGBTQIA divorce.
Both formal and common law marriage in Texas requires an official divorce. This procedure is regulated by the Texas Family Code and includes meeting the residency requirements, providing legal grounds for divorce, attending mediation (required in most major counties) and obtaining a resolution of property division, child custody, child support and in some cases, spousal support.
In a same sex divorce, child custody and child support may seem a bit more complicated if only one person has biological ties to the child(ren). Be that as it may, it is obvious a biological or adoptive parent automatically has the legal ground or standing to file a suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR). But, a person who has had “care, control, and possession of a child for at least six months, ending not more than 90 days before the suit is filed,” also has the ability to file a lawsuit for custody. The latter usually applies to persons in a same-sex relationship.
Love is universal, but so is acrimony, and divorce litigation can bring out the worst in people. When Obergefell was decided, many gay and lesbian couples were concerned that family court judges who opposed gay marriage would be unfair during the divorce process. Legally, this could not (read: should not) be done. Mediation is always encouraged in all cases so that parties can remain in control of the decision making for themselves and their children. Therefore, whatever perceived biases a party may think a judge has, the judge must respect and rule on the mediated settlement agreement as legally binding provided those agreements were voluntary, and were written in proper form.
The show must go on. If you are in a same-sex marriage or relationship that is ending and you would like to know more about who has what rights and obligations relating to minor children, contact contact The Putman Firm, PLLC at (281) 501-9033. You can also schedule a consultation by visiting Your Family Law Attorney.
The Putman Firm, PLLC is a family law litigation firm that handles a wide array of family matters including criminal matters that intersect family law, i.e. family violence assault cases, protective orders (criminal and civil) and allegations of child abuse.