Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wharton Widow, Nikki Araguz, told to leave Sen Williams' Office

A short video clip of Warton widow Nikki Araguz and Human Rights Campaign Board Member Megan Stabler talking with a staffer for Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) has been released on YouTube. The video is below. Mrs. Araguz is the widow of Warton, TX volunteer firefighter Thomas Araguz, killed in the line of duty. Capt. Araguz's ex-wife Heather Delgado who claims that she, the woman Capt. Araguz choose to divorce, should receive the widow's benefits from his insurance, instead of Mrs. Araguz, the woman Capt. Araguz chose to marry.

Delgado's case is based on the assumption that since Mrs. Araguz's original birth certificate identified her as "male" that her marriage to Capt. Araguz is void. (Mrs. Araguz's birth certificate has been corrected and now identifies her as "female.") Currently Texas Family Code Sec. 2.05 allows a court ordered "sex change" to be used to establish a person's identity when obtaining a marriage license. Since the law specifically permits a document establishing that someone has changed their legally recognized sex to be used to obtain a marriage license, argue Araguz's lawyers, then clearly people who have changed their legally recognized sex are permitted by the law to marry people of the opposite legally recognized sex.

Williams' has filed Senate Bill 723 which would remove the portion of the Family Code that permits those court orders to be used when obtaining a marriage license.

In the video "Chelsea," a staffer for Williams, can be heard claiming that there is "ambiguity" in the current law and that SB 723 is necessary to clarify the law. This is a marked change from the argument Williams made in support of the bill in his "Author's Statement of Intent" which was included in the Senate Jurisprudence Committee's official report to the Senate. In his statement of intent Williams quoted a 1999 court case Littleton v. Prange (which is only binding in the 4th court of appeals) which put forth the opinion that the sex a person is assigned on their birth certificate is their only legally recognized sex and that there is no way for a person to have an incorrect birth certificate corrected. The "ambiguity" Chelsea references is the conflict between Littleton and the common practice of some counties of denying marriage licenses to transgender Texans and the Family Code.

The idea that this conflict is in anyway ambiguous is ludicrous. When there is a conflict between court precedent and the code the code always supersedes. Likewise if the practice or policy of a county office is in conflict with the code not only does the code supersede, but any employee who denies a marriage license to a person who is legally permitted to have one could be held criminally liable for official oppression.

Stabler reports via Facebook that after this video ends she and Araguz were told to leave Williams' office.


  1. I wish they had gotten more on their phone cam, but her crappy attitude comes across very well! No wonder she works for a bigot.

  2. Chelsea says there is ambiguity, that clerks are making judgment calls and that she wont change her mind. Sounds a lot like the clerks think they have the power to chose how they interpret this law. So what is LAW worth if it is open to personal judgment by paid officials?