Current Marriage Law Texas

A couple seeking a marriage license must apply at a Texas County Clerk’s Office. Once the license is issued, the couple must wait 72 hours before their marriage ceremony. In some circumstances, a waiver to this waiting period may be granted. The marriage license will expire after 31 days if no marriage ceremony is performed. Individuals aged 18 or older may get married without parental consent. Parental consent is required for 16 and 17 year olds. 

Gay Marriage and Divorce

The Texas constitution states that marriage is only allowed between one man and one woman. This limitation was added as a constitutional amendment on November 8, 2005. The amendment also forbids the state from recognizing out-of-state marriage relationships or domestic partnerships.

The lack of divorce options for couples in a same-sex marriage has become a pressing issue for family lawyers and judges throughout the state. Gay couples who have been married now have children and families, creating the need for divorce attorneys to help them dissolve their marriage equitably. Despite this growing need, Texas lawyers are barred by law from performing divorces for gay couples. 

Not only does Texas not allow same-couples to marry, but the state does not provide options for them to divorce. In 2009, a Texas judge was assigned a divorce case for a gay Texas couple who had been married in Massachusetts. She found the law unconstitutional, providing the basis for a legal challenge to the same-sex marriage ban. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the same-sex marriage ban did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and that Texas district courts lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear cases related to same-sex divorce. 

Public Endorsement of Gay Marriage Grows

Although Texas is known to be a conservative state, the movement for same-sex marriage rights is gaining public support. In 2009, Houstonians voted to elect Annise Parker as the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city. In another public show of support, Texas Judge Tonya Parker declared that she will not perform marriages for straight couples until Texas legalizes gay marriage. Parker is the only openly lesbian African American elected official in Texas. Although Texas judges are not required to perform marriages, they may do so if it does not interfere with their judicial responsibilities.

Texas Marriage Laws: What the State Constitution says…

Sec. 32.  MARRIAGE. (a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.

(b)  This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

(Added Nov. 8, 2005.)

Source: Texas State Constitution