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Today, August 13, 2014 the Arizona Court of Appeals held that Thomas Beatie, the world’s first married pregnant man, is allowed to be officially “divorced”. Thomas’ lawyer, David Michael Cantor of the Cantor Law Group, sees this as a landmark decision in recognizing transgender person’s marital rights not only in Arizona, but throughout the United States.
In May of 2012 the Superior Court of Arizona found that Thomas Beatie, the world’s first married pregnant man, “will continue to have solely legal custody” of his three children. This occurred after a very intense and public temporary order proceeding involving Thomas and wife, Nancy.
Then in June of 2012, the Honorable Judge Douglas Gerlach issued an order questioning wheather the court even had jurisdiction over the divorce. The issue for the judge was whether this Hawaii marriage was valid under Arizona law, based on Thomas’ sex change status and his retention of his female reproductive organs at the time of the marriage.
After a Hearing in December of 2012, involving expert witnesses which included Thomas’ sex change surgeon, the judge ruled that Arizona did not have jurisdiction over the case, and that Thomas’ marriage was invalid under Arizona law as a “same-sex marriage.”
After appealing to the Arizona Court of Appeals, they have ruled today “we find the Family Court has subject matter jurisdiction to proceed with Beatie’s petition for Dissolution of Marriage and, ultimately, to enter a Decree of Dissolution, and therefore reversed the Family Court’s dismissal of Beatie’s Dissolution petition”. The court focused on the fact that Thomas complied with Hawaii’s “clear and unambiguous” Statute regarding sex change operations and Thomas’s obtaining a valid Hawaii marriage license.
The court specifically stated “it was not within the authority of the Family Court to, sua sponte, expand the requisites of the Hawaii Statute,” and “there is no apparent basis in law or fact for the proposition that in the event Thomas gave birth after having modified his gender designation, it would have abrogated his “maleness”, as reflected on the amended birth certificate”.
Mr. Beatie made headlines in 2008 as the World’s First Married Pregnant Man after being legally recognized as a man in 2002. As a married transgender male, he then gave birth to his three children from 2008 to 2010 and now resides in Arizona. Judge Gerlach’s original decision of Thomas’ divorce caused a media frenzy which resulted in interviews with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Drew, among others. The Arizona Court of Appeals’ recognition of Mr. Beatie’s marriage is believed to be the first of its kind in Arizona.
Attorney David Michael Cantor said “Thomas jumped for joy when he heard the news that the Arizona Court of Appeals recognized his transgender marriage as valid under Arizona law.” Thomas Beatie said, “I feel I have finally been recognized in Arizona as not just a man, but a human being.” Mr. Cantor then continued “This has now opened the door for all other States transgender marriages to be recognized in the divorce courts of Arizona.”
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