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Court revives transgender widow's legal fight

•  National News     updated  2014/02/17 16:00


A Texas appeals court on Thursday overturned a judge's ruling that had voided the marriage of a transgender widow whose firefighter husband died battling a blaze.

The 13th Texas Court of Appeals sent the case of Nikki Araguz back to the lower court, saying "there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding sex and whether the marriage was a same sex marriage."

In 2011, state District Judge Randy Clapp in Wharton County ruled that the marriage between Nikki Araguz and her husband Thomas Araguz was "void as a matter of law."

Thomas Araguz's mother and his first wife had challenged the marriage's validity, arguing the fallen firefighter's estate should go to his two sons because Nikki Araguz was born a man and Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Nikki Araguz, 38, had argued in court she had done everything medically and legally possible to show she is female and was legally married under Texas law and that she's entitled to widow's benefits.

Kent Rutter, Nikki Araguz's attorney, said his client was very pleased by Thursday's ruling.

"This decision recognizes that transgender Texans have the right to marry the person that they love," he said.

Attorneys for Simona Longoria, Thomas Araguz's mother, and Heather Delgado, his ex-wife, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
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