(PHOENIX) — The attorney for a transgender Arizona man who was denied a divorce by a judge last week on grounds the state does not recognize same-sex marriages said Tuesday that he plans to appeal the ruling.
Thomas Beatie gave birth to three of his children after beginning to change his sex from female, something his attorney, David Cantor, said he believes the judge used against him in his ruling.
“It’s hard for him. He feels he is being targeted saying, ‘Look, if you had kept it to yourself and didn’t use your reproductive organs, we wouldn’t be here,'” Cantor said.
He said he plans to decide on Friday whether to appeal to the State Court of Appeals or the State Supreme Court.
Beatie had legal documentation identifying him as a man when he married his wife Nancy in Hawaii nine years ago, Cantor said, and had undergone chest reconstruction surgery to remove his breasts.
However, Maricopa County Family Court Judge Douglas Gerlach ruled last week that Beatie’s marriage could not be dissolved, since Arizona does not recognize same-sex unions. Furthermore, he said there was insufficient proof that Beatie was legally a man when he married his wife and noted that he had ceased hormone treatments in order to get pregnant.
“Parties have failed to show that the word ‘man’ in the state constitution means anything different from its plain, ordinary meaning, which by any generally accepted definition or reputable dictionary excludes people capable of giving birth,” Gerlach wrote, dismissing the case for a lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
While Cantor said the judge’s ruling means Beatie doesn’t have to pay spousal maintenance, it’s frustrating as he tries to move forward with his life with his girlfriend, Amber.
“She doesn’t want to be dating a married man,” Cantor said.
“If they get married, this judge would call it a same-sex marriage not acknowledging Thomas as a man,” he said. “Hawaii regards Thomas as still being married.”
In order to get divorced in Hawaii, where his marriage is recognized, Beatie would have to re-establish residency, Cantor said.
Beatie became known as the “Pregnant Man” in 2008 when he announced he and his wife were expecting their first child. He made the rounds to talk shows sporting facial hair and showing his pregnant belly while discussing his unique journey.
He later shared more of it in a book called Labor of Love: The Story of One Man’s Extraordinary Pregnancy.
Beatie and his estranged wife are the legal parents of children ages 4, 3 and 2 years old.
Nancy Beatie’s attorney, David Higgins, said she would likely join the fight against the judge’s ruling.
“The decision is a two-edged sword for Nancy,” he said. “Obviously she is very disappointed the judge did not find the marriage to be valid. She understood herself to be married, believed Thomas to be a man, and we will probably join Thomas in moving forward with an appeal in that regard.”
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