Texas grants surviving spouse status in same-sex death certificate

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 07, 2015 12:53 PM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas has issued surviving spouse status to a man whose husband died earlier this year, a move that came after a federal judge ordered the state to do so, officials said on Friday.

Texas, where Republican leaders have tried to push back against gay marriage, had balked at recognizing John Stone-Hoskins as the surviving spouse on the death certificate of James Stone-Hoskins, according to court documents.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said the amended death certificate was issued on Thursday evening.

"It now lists John Allen Stone-Hoskins as his spouse," it said.

John and James Stone-Hoskins were lawfully married in New Mexico in August 2014 and James died in January 2015. At the time, their home state of Texas did not allow same-sex marriage.

Texas refused to recognize John as the surviving spouse at the time of the death. He filed a lawsuit on Wednesday calling on the state to list him as the surviving spouse on the death certificate, saying it must do so after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that made same-sex marriage legal in all states.

Hours after the papers were filed, a federal judge ordered Texas to list John as the surviving spouse.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio also ordered defendants including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, and the state's acting health commissioner to appear in his court next week as he considers whether they should be held in contempt.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz)