Originally published on Advocate.com August 20 2003 12:00 AM ET
A judge refused Monday to accept a competing will in a dispute over the $7.5 million estate of Gloria Hemingway, the transgendered daughter of novelist Ernest Hemingway. Circuit judge Arthur Rothenberg asked attorneys to draft legal briefs on the "cutting-edge issue" of same-sex marriage because of a claim made by Ida Hemingway that she and Gloria were married a second time, following a first marriage that preceded Gloria's sex-change surgery. Gloria's children, contesting Ida's claim to an inheritance, say the alleged 1997 second marriage in Washington is irrelevant and not recognized in Florida or Washington. "The basic issue was whether she was a spouse or not," the judge said. Gloria Hemingway, born Gregory, the author's youngest son, died in a Miami jail after her arrest on an indecent exposure charge in 2001. Gloria, a physician for 15 years, wrote the 1976 book Papa: A Personal Memoir. Gloria's mother was Valerie Danby-Smith, the last of Hemingway's four wives. The elder Hemingway killed himself in 1961.
A will written in 1994 and admitted in probate court in Miami soon after Gloria's death called for the estate to be split among Gloria's eight children and Ida, but the couple were later divorced, with a settlement excluding Ida from inheriting. They were married from 1992 to 1995. Eight months after Gloria's death, Ida Hemingway produced a will bearing dates in 1997 and 1998 leaving $1,000 each to three of Gloria's eight children, $20,000 to a friend, and the rest to Ida. Ida Hemingway said she found the will in a desk in storage in Montana. The children contesting the will claim it is counterfeit, a forgery, or was written under Ida's undue influence. With agreement from both sides, Rothenberg appointed retired judge David Tobin as a mediator in hopes of avoiding a trial, tentatively set for October.