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EQTX Press Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Chuck Smith
Deputy Director, Equality Texas
512-474-5475

Statement from the 2nd Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit on the Araguz Case

HOUSTON, Texas (July 22, 2010) - We, the attendees of the Second Annual Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit, issue this statement to demonstrate our support for Mrs. Nikki Araguz and to call attention to her plight and that of all transgender people in the state of Texas.

Mrs. Nikki Araguz legally married a man, and her marriage has been recognized under the laws of the state of Texas.  Nikki's husband, a fireman in Wharton County, tragically was killed in the line of duty, and now other parties are attempting to use the courts to have her marriage legally overturned in an effort to deny her inheritance and insurance.

These parties are claiming that Nikki is not legally a woman under Texas law.  Nikki's opponents are attempting to use an obscure Texas case, Littleton v. Prange (1999), to declare that her marriage should be invalid.  The Littleton case says that a person's gender is determined by chromosomes, not physical attributes.  The Littleton case was decided to deny a transgender woman her right to bring a wrongful death suit on behalf of her husband - even though Littleton had legally changed her gender and had been legally married in Texas.

The Littleton case was wrongfully decided at the time, and if taken literally stands for the proposition that a transgender person cannot marry anyone, of either gender, under Texas law.  Clearly, this is wrong.  Denying anyone the right to marry whom they love is a violation of the most basic freedoms under our laws.  To deny the validity of an existing, legal marriage, after one of the spouses has died, as justification for the redistribution of inheritance and insurance, is abhorrent to the values of common decency, fair play, and justice that most Texans hold dear.

We, the attendees of this Summit, extend our heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Araguz, and call for the swift dismissal of this lawsuit so that Mrs. Araguz may be left to mourn her loss in private without distraction or worry for her financial stability.

If necessary, we also call for the courts to consider the Littleton case superseded by the recent changes to the Texas Family Code that recognize a court ordered gender change as definitive proof of identity.

Sadly, discrimination against people because of either their gender identity or expression is common.  There are few laws in the state of Texas to address this need.  The purpose of our Summit is to find ways to help people confront and overcome the issues now facing all transgender people in Texas and, tragically, Mrs. Nikki Araguz.

Signatories:

Equality Across America - Houston Equality Texas GALA of San Antonio College
Houston GLBT Community Center National Trans Advocacy Coalition Out Students & Allies, Houston Community College
San Antonio Gender Association Texas Gender Advocacy & Information Network Transgender Education Network of Texas
Transgender Foundation of America Alica Palmer, Outspoken Amanda Benton, President, GALA of San Antonio College
Ambalika Williams Arielle Heidbrink, VP, GALA of San Antonio College Beverly McPhail
Boyd R. Beckwith Brian Riedel Carla Mencias
Carlos Soto, Direct Action Network of San Antonio Champagne Henry, GALA of San Antonio College Chrystie Ayala-Quintero
Clay Dippel Cristan Williams Daniel Williams
David Michal Noriega Debra Webster Elizabeth N. Rhyne
Georges Zemanek Ginger Yachinich Guillermo de los Reyes
Hana Pinard Issac Brown, Direct Action Network of San Antonio Jason Brunelle
Jennifer Tyburczy Jimmy Pena Josephine Tittsworth, CoChair, Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit
Josh Cory Julie Smith Kareem Jones
Katy Stewart Kevin Abrams, GALA of San Antonio College LaKeia Spady, President, Out Students & Allies, Houston Community College
Lauryn Farris, Minister of Church Life, Metropolitan Community Church of San Antonio Lorraine Schroeder Lou Weaver
Lowell Kane Margaret A. Gibson Maria C. Gonzalez
Monica Roberts Nicole Lamb Randall Terrell
Rev. Mick Hinson, Pastor, Metropolitan Community Church of San Antonio Richard Anthony Leyba, GALA of San Antonio College Shane Whalley
Tiffany Bishop Vanessa Edwards Foster William Barksdale
Yumi Yoshida


Equality Texas advocates and lobbies for the elimination of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.


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