Society

Transgender Woman and Wife Can Divorce, Indiana Appeals Court Rules

| by Allison Geller

After an Indiana judge refused to grant a divorce to a transgender woman and her wife an appeals court reversed the ruling, finding that transgender couples do not violate Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriages.

David Paul Summers married Angela Summers in 1999. He has since become Melanie Davis after being diagnosed with gender dysphoria and changing his gender identity. The couple separated in 2008, and Davis filed for a divorce in 2012. Davis was given custody of their child and Summers required to pay child support in a provisional divorce order.

However, Monroe Circuit Judge Valeri Haughton rejected the couple's divorce petition on the grounds that since Davis had legally changed her birth certificate to reflect that she is a “female” and not a “male,” the couple’s marriage was void, since it violated Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban.

An appeals court just overturned Judge Haughton’s ruling 3-0, stating that the judge was “beyond the purview of [her] constitutional authority to interpret statutes” when she decided against the couple's lawful divorce.

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Indiana marriage law dictates that  “Only a female may marry a male. Only a male may marry a female,” and that “A marriage between persons of the same gender is void in Indiana even if the marriage is lawful in the place where it is solemnized.” The appeals court ruled that the second part of the law was intended to stop gay couples who wedded out of state to be married in Indiana, and not to make in-state marriages void.

Davis’s parental rights will not be threatened, and the couple will be able to proceed with their divorce.

Sources: The Advocate, AP