Transgender widow celebrates legal victory: ‘I need some champagne’

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by Tiffany Craig / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 11:25 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 13 at 11:40 PM

HOUSTON -- A local transgender woman has won legal victory in the fight for her deceased husband's death benefits.

"I need some champagne," said Nikki Araguz. "It seems very fitting that the day before Valentine's Day, a day that is all about love and recognition that I should be handed a nod by the appellate courts."

Since her firefighter husband died working in 2010, Araguz has fought to keep her marriage legal.

Thomas Araguz' first wife and mother have challenged the validity of the marriage. They believe all the benefits should go to his two sons because Nikki was born a man and same-sex marriages are not recognized in Texas.

"This has never been about money for me," said Araguz. "It's been about the recognition and validity of my marriage and my relationship to my late husband."

KHOU legal analyst Gerald Treece said an appellate court overturning a judge who ruled the marriage is void is a small win at best.

"Don't break out the champagne too quickly," explained Treece. "These are technical legal grounds upon which it was reversed. It had nothing to do with absolute declaration of rights for people who change their gender."

Treece believed this just gives the outspoken transgender widow a chance to keep fighting.

"This is another vehicle headed towards the Texas Supreme Court." said Treece. "It's only through the Texas Supreme Court and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme court that we get final resolution."

Araguz knew it was a small win but she'll take every one she can get.

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