Courts in Arizona, California Recognize Transgender Marriages

Thomas Beatie
Thomas Beatie, the world's "first pregnant man" |

Courts in Arizona and California have delivered rulings in two separate divorce cases, legally recognizing transgender marriages, including that of the world's "first pregnant man."

The Arizona Court of Appeals has allowed "Pregnant Man" Thomas Beatie, who was born female, to dissolve his Hawaiian marriage with another woman, while the California Superior Court has ruled that the marriage of Jake Miller, also known as Buck Angel, with Elayne Angel is valid.

A lower court had refused to dissolve the marriage of Beatie, who later got his birth certificate amended under Hawaiian law, with Nancy J. Beatie due to Arizona's ban on such unions.

Nancy could not conceive children but Beatie still had female reproductive organs, so the latter was artificially inseminated and became pregnant, according to Beatie, who has manly beard and chest, has three children but wants to marry another woman.

"The question before this Court is not whether the State of Arizona allows same-sex marriage or divorce, but whether the laws of the State of Arizona allow a marriage, lawfully entered into in another state, between two persons the foreign state formally recognized at the time of the marriage as male and female, to be dissolved," the appellate court said in the ruling Wednesday.

"At the time of the Beaties' marriage in Hawaii, that state only allowed marriages between a man and a woman, and Hawaii's legislature, like Arizona's, had established statutory authority allowing persons who had undergone a sex change operation to apply for and obtain an amended birth certificate reflecting the appropriate gender," the ruling added.

Similarly, the California court ruled that the marriage of Buck, also born female, with Elayne Angel, held in Louisiana after California court recognized the former as male, was valid, according to Buck, however, updated his birth certificate only after the marriage.

Elayne wanted to avoid paying Buck spousal support in the divorce and therefore argued that the marriage should not be recognized because Buck's birth certificate was updated only after they were married.

"I was shocked that my manhood was brought into question after I had been living my authentic life as a man for over 20 years and having done my best to get all my documents changed," Transgender Law Center, which submitted amicus briefs in both cases, quoted Buck as saying in response to the ruling. "Today I feel incredibly validated, both for myself and the entire transgender community. This is so important for couples and families like mine."

"Divorce is hard enough as it is," Beatie was quoted as saying. "Nobody expects the government to contest it. After two and a half long years, I've finally been legally vindicated and validated not only as a husband, father, and a man, but as a human being. Hopefully now, other transgender people in Arizona and throughout the country don't have to live in fear of their marriages, families, and identities being challenged and disrespected just because of who they are."

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