Transgender widow of Wharton County firefighter to have another day in court

Transgender widow of Wharton County firefighter to have another day in court

Transgender widow of Wharton County firefighter to have another day in court

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by KHOU.com staff

khou.com

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 13 at 4:57 PM

Houston – The transgender widow fighting for a portion of her late husband’s estate is going to have another chance to present her case to the judge.

Nikki Araguz is challenging her husband’s ex-wife and other family members who claim she is not entitled to any death benefits from Thomas Araguz’s estate because she was born a man.

State District Judge Randy Clapp ruled in favor of the family in 2011, but Araguz and her lawyers filed an appeal.

The 13th Court of Appeals decided on Thursday that the first case presented against Nikki Araguz was not strong enough, so the case must now go back to trial court. The landmark opinion, written by Chief Justice Rogelio Valdez, ruled that Texas must recognize the marriages of transgender people.

Thomas Araguz III, a Wharton County firefighter, died fighting a blaze at a farm in 2010. After his family learned that Nikki Araguz was born a male named Justin Purdue, they challenged her rights to the benefits. They argued that the marriage should be declared null and void because the Texas Constitution effectively bans same sex marriages. The judge back then agreed that although Araguz had her original California birth certificate amended to show that she is now female, that Texas law goes by the original birth certificate that shows Araguz/Purdue was born male.

Nikki Araguz said she always wanted what was fair and that she promised her husband if anything ever happened to him that she would help take care of his children.

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