Many residents here in Washington may be familiar with the story of the ‘pregnant man.’ He first entered the spotlight when he appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2008. Originally born a woman, he is now legally considered a man and has even carried all three of his and his wife’s children. But while the ‘pregnant man’, also known as Thomas Beatie, was used to scrutiny from the public, nothing could prepare him for the difficulties he would face later on in life.
Recently, the couple’s marriage became strained and in 2012 Beatie filed for divorce seeking dissolution of his marriage. But because of gender identity issues and unclear laws, an Arizona judge was unable to determine whether the couple’s union was a heterosexual or same-sex marriage.
Because Beatie was still undergoing transgender procedures when he married his wife in 2003, the judge could not determine whether Beatie was considered a male or a female at the time the marriage license was issued in Hawaii. And because Arizona does not recognize same-sex marriage at this time, the judge could not dissolve a marriage the state may not even recognize in the first place.
Beatie has since appealed the judge’s ruling, pointing out that legal documents in Oregon prove him to be a male and therefore validate his marriage to be heterosexual in nature. He and his lawyer hope that the judge’s ruling will be overturned and that divorce proceedings can continue as planned.
As many residents in Washington are already aware, the differences in marriage laws between each state can complicate even the most straight-forward of situations. It’s in instances such as the one above that highlight the importance of representation; because without it, a person could find themselves in a vulnerable legal situation with no hope of protecting their rights.
Source: Yahoo News, “Arizona ‘pregnant man’ to appeal ruling rejecting divorce,” David Schwartz, April 2, 2013