Texas Agrees to List Same-Sex Spouses on Birth and Death Certificates
In an emergency motion filed Monday in federal court in San Antonio, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked that the court rescind the order requiring the AG to appear in court Wednesday to face possible contempt charges for disobeying a ban on state same-sex marriage bans in a case involving a death certificate for a same-sex couple.
Update Monday 3:30 p.m. The contempt hearing set for Wednesday has been canceled, confirms Neel Lane, attorney for James Stone-Hoskins. The state agreed today to allow death certificates to be amended for same-sex couples, to list same-sex spouses on death certificates going forward, and to allow same-sex parents to be listed on birth certificates.
Original story: Last Wednesday, a lawsuit was filed against Paxton for denying a same-sex couple the right to have one spouse listed as 'husband' on the other spouse's death certificate.
James Stone-Hoskins and John Allen Stone-Hoskins, who died in January, were married legally in New Mexico in 2014. A ruling in June this year by the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage, like the one in Texas, and ordered that states recognize same-sex marriages performed in any U.S. state.
Despite the federal ruling, Paxton refused to allow James Stone-Hoskins to obtain a copy of his partner's death certificate acknowledging their legal marital status. John Allen's death certificate listed James as a "significant other," but not as his husband.
The judge in the case, Orlando Garcia, ruled last week that officials should correct the death certificate to reflect the legal marriage, and Garcia was considering whether to charge Paxton, along with Interim Commissioner of the Department of State Health Services Kirk Cole, with contempt of court for disobeying an order Garcia had handed down in July, in which the Texas ban on marriage bans was officially overturned.
The motion argues that both Paxton and Cole aren’t required to attend the hearing because the hearing’s importance wouldn’t constitute “extraordinary circumstances,” adding that both Deputy General Counsel Barbara Klein of DSHS and Deputy Attorney General for Legal Counsel Brantley Starr of the AG’s office would both be available to testify. Paxton asked that a ruling on the motion to rescind or quash be handed down by 3 p.m. today.
Paxton is also facing unrelated securities fraud charges for actions he took prior to taking his position as Attorney General.
This post will be updated.