Transgender woman Nikki Araguz, who is seeking to claim her late husband’s death benefits, is waging another legal battle in Texas, seeking to marry again.
Araguz and her fiancé, William Lloyd, were denied a marriage license by the Harris County Clerk’s office in Houston Thursday, TV station KVUE reports. Texas law considers her male, even though she presented a document certifying her gender transition, and does not allow same-sex marriage. Also, although Araguz has obtained an amended birth certificate identifying her as female, Texas goes by the original birth certificate, which designates her as male.
“This is an acceptable form of identification according to your 2009 family code but you're denying me” a marriage license, Araguz said to the employee in the clerk’s office, according to KVUE. “The constitution will trump the family code,” the employee replied, referring to the ban on same-sex marriage in Texas’s constitution.
Araguz was previously married to firefighter Thomas Araguz, who died during a blaze in Wharton County, Texas, in 2010. She has been fighting his family in court in an effort to receive death benefits. In 2011 a judge denied her the benefits, saying the marriage was invalid. Her appeal will be will be heard by the 13th Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi.
Meanwhile, Araguz said she and Lloyd will have a marriage ceremony after the hearing, whether or not they obtain a license. She is also the subject of a documentary film currently in production.