DALLAS (CN) - A state judge on Thursday agreed to hear the divorce petition of two men who were married outside of Texas, where gay marriages are banned by the state Family Code and constitution. Dallas District Judge Tena Callahan, a Democrat, ruled that the state ban on gay marriage violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection. The ruling was immediately challenged by Texas' Republican attorney general.
Callahan ruled that her court "has jurisdiction to hear a suit for divorce filed by persons legally married in another jurisdiction and who meet the residency and other prerequisites required to file for divorce in Dallas County, Texas."
In a written statement released immediately after the ruling, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said he would appeal.
"The laws and constitution of the State of Texas define marriage as an institution involving one man and one woman," Abbott said. "Today's ruling purports to strike down that constitutional definition, despite the fact that it was recently adopted by 75 percent of Texas voters.
"The Office of the Attorney General will appeal the court's ruling to defend the traditional definition of marriage that was approved by Texas voters," Abbott said.
The men were married in Cambridge, Mass., in 2006 and then returned to Dallas, according to the Dallas Morning News. The couple had been together for 11 years.
Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in 2005.