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March 17, 2010

Trans Woman Denied The Fundamental Right To Marry In Reno, Nevada

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This case presents a constitutional question never addressed by this Court: whether a statutory scheme adopted by the State of Virginia to prevent marriages between persons solely on the basis of racial classifications violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. For reasons which seem to us to reflect the central meaning of those constitutional commands, we conclude that these statutes cannot stand consistently with the Fourteenth Amendment.

…These statutes also deprive the Lovings of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190 (1888). To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

Marriage — at the very least marriage between a legally identified male and a legally identified female — is considered a fundamental right in the United States. This fundamental right was spelled out by Cheif Justice Earl Warren within the language of the United States Supreme Court ruling Loving v. Virginia. The above quote is from that ruling.

However, which sex and/or gender is the opposite sex and/or gender of a preoperative trans person is apparently is of great concern to the marriage license issuers in Shasta County, Nevada (Which includes the city of Reno). Are trans people somehow legally third-gendered, and not able to legally marry anyone at all?

Well, aparently in Shasta County, trans women who have not had genital reconstruction surgery, but live in states where one can change one’s gender marker on one’s state identification cards before that surgery, aren’t able to legally marry anyone at all.

From the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Spurned by NV, transgender female to wed in CA (male name redacted):

Danielle Pauline Severson takes female hormones, dresses like a woman and plans to have sex reassignment surgery so she physically looks like a woman.

Yet the pre-operative transgender female, who was born __ __ Severson, will have to tie the knot as a man in California.

Well, why is that?

From the Reno Gazette-Journal‘s Spurned by NV, transgender female to wed in CA:

Chief Deputy Clerk Nancy Parent declined to issue the license.

“We try to be flexible in accepting things but because the government-issued photo ID says female, we cannot issue (a marriage license),” Parent said. “A birth certificate doesn’t suffice for anyone because there’s nothing on that birth certificate that proves it’s you, it doesn’t show what you look like years later.

“We have no leeway because the law in the state of Nevada opposes same-sex marriage. It’s not our rule; the voters decided it, and we had two people who appeared to be the same sex.”

When asked if she could have proved she was still male, Parent answered the following.

“We don’t make physical examinations.”

But, Danielle Pauline Severson had documentation: a birth certificate showing she had an M for a gender marker, divorce papers from a marriage to a woman, her name-change documentation, as well as her photo identification. Perhaps unfortunately — perhaps unfortunate only in this kind of situation — Severson resides in California where one can change one’s gender marker on one’s state identification cards without surgery.

If Severson would have married a male instead of a female in Nevada, then the marriage would have no doubt have been considered an illegal fraud because Severson is still considered legally male due to the “M” on her birth certificate, and her male genitalia. Remember Chief Deputy Clerk Nancy Parent’s quote:

…Nevada opposes same-sex marriage.

The net effect is that Danielle Pauline Severson does not have the fundamental right to marry anyone at all in Shasta County, Nevada.

Never let anyone tell you that marriage equality isn’t a trans issue. As I’ve quoted Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) in the past:

Every trans person who’s in a relationship, regardless of what their gender is or ever was they’re either in a same-sex relationship or in an opposite sex relationships that somebody could claim was a same-sex relationship.

In Shasta County, Nevada, people like Danielle Pauline Severson apparently can’t legally marry anyone. Trans women who’ve changed their state ID’s gender marker but as yet haven’t had genital reconstruction surgery are dehumanized to the point that for marriage purposes in Shasta County, trans people like Danielle Pauline Severson are not able to legally marry anyone at all.

And, that’s just wrong.

~~~~~

Related:

* Question At The Marriage Chapel: “Are you a transsexual?”


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