Lawyers for Nikki Araguz, a transsexual woman fighting for recognition of her marriage to a fallen firefighter, filed an appeal Tuesday that seeks to overturn a judge’s ruling that the marriage is invalid.
Araguz was married to volunteer firefighter Capt. Thomas Araguz III from 2008 until his death while battling a blaze at an egg farm near Boling, Texas on July 3, 2010.
Tuesday’s appeal seeks to overturn the ruling of 329th District Court Judge Randy Clapp (No. 44575, In the Estate of Thomas Trevino Araguz, III, Deceased, Wharton County, Texas). The court ruled that Araguz’s marriage was invalid, even though undisputed medical evidence proved that Araguz was female at the time she and her husband married. The ruling also disregarded Araguz’s reissued birth certificate, which replaced her original birth certificate and certifies that she is female. The U.S. Constitution requires Texas courts to give “full faith and credit” to the birth certificate, which was issued by a court in California where Araguz was born.
“At stake in this important case are the rights of transsexual people to be respected for who they are and to have their marriages recognized,” said Kent Rutter, the lead attorney for Araguz in the appeal, in a statement Tuesday. “We look forward to presenting our case to the court of appeals.”
Araguz also announced that she will set up a trust for Thomas Araguz’s children, and will deposit any net benefits received from insurance or firefighters’ organizations as a result of her husband’s death in the line of duty.
“I am pursuing this appeal to defend my marriage, not to obtain any financial benefit,” said Araguz. “I provided financial support for my husband and step-sons during our marriage, and it is my desire to continue that support in his memory.”
The appeal will be heard by the Thirteenth Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi.
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CONTACT: Kent Rutter
Haynes and Boone, LLP