After an unnecessarily tortuous process and reams of red tape, a dying man’s wish to have his husband’s death certificate reflect their marriage has been granted.
Six months ago, John Allan Stone-Hoskins came home and found his husband James had hanged himself. After two churches refused to perform funeral rites because James was gay — and an antigay church attended the funeral to hand John leaflets claiming he was going to hell — he found out that Texas refused to change James’ death certificate to reflect their vows. John wasn’t listed on his husband’s death certificate, because at the time, the same-sex ban had yet to be lifted. The death certificate listed James Stone-Hoskins as single.
So an emergency motion was filed, and it was a genuine emergency: John was recently diagnosed with cancer and is expected to live only two or three more months. On top of amending the death certificate, the motion asked for Texas General Ted Paxton and the interim heath services director Kirk Cole to be held in contempt of court for “not agreeing that it applied retroactively,” said Neel Lane, one of Stone-Hoskins’ lawyers. “They want the court to decide it. To me, it already has and the Constitution is clear. They’re denying him his constitutional rights. If he were ‘Jane,’ the certificate would be changed as a matter of course. The only reason they are doing this is because he’s ‘John.”
Acting with unusual speed, Judge Orlando Garcia granted John’s motion the day it was filed, ordering Cole to “immediately issue an amended death certificate for James H. Stone-Hoskins to state that John Allen Stone-Hoskins is the surviving spouse of James, and in doing so, fully recognize their legal out-of-state marriage.”
Moreover, the order also insists that Cole and Paxton come back to court “to determine whether Defendants should be held in contempt for disobedience of this Court’s July 7, 2015 order, permanently enjoining Defendants from enforcing any of Texas’s laws that prohibit or fail to recognize same-sex marriage.” Their date is set for August 12, and we’re very curious to see how that goes.
“Our client John Stone-Hoskins is delighted that the State of Texas must now recognize his marriage to his late husband as valid,” Stone-Hoskins’ lawyer, Neel Lane, told the Texas Tribune. “Like many other gay and lesbian citizens, John and his late husband James were denied the respect and dignity they were entitled to under the Constitution.”
“This is about every same-sex couple that’s going through, or could go through, what I’m going through now,” Stone-Hoskins said.
h/t: Think Progress