Wharton county Judge receives an order Monday morning requiring him to reverse his 2011 ruling against transgender woman, Nikki Araguz Loyd, Friday, October 23rd 2015, Texas’ 13 th District Court Of Appeals ordered Wharton County Judge Randy Clapp to reverse his 2011 ruling following the Independence day 2010 death of firefighter Capt. Thomas Araguz that left his wife, transgender woman, Nikki Araguz Loyd, fighting for their marriage to be recognized and her entitlement to the spousal death benefits totaling more than $400,000.
Capt. Araguz answered a fire call in the final hours of July 3 rd, 2010, Araguz was the first to enter the building, within minutes the building collapsed, leaving crews unable to rescue or recover his body for more than 8 hours. His wife, Nikki Araguz, had been on the road heading to California, to amend her birth certificate, the evening he died. She returned to bury her husband and the day after his funeral, was served by Capt. Araguz’s first wife and mother, suing for death benefits and challenging her marriage, because she is transgender. Within months, Judge Clapp, without hearing, ruled against Araguz Loyd voiding the couple’s 2-year marriage. The case ultimately reached the Texas Supreme Court this year, who in September ruled in favor of the widow, sending the case back through the slow moving legal system, landing on the desk of Judge Clapp this morning, who has been ordered to reverse his ruling. In light of the historic Obergefell marriage equality rulings that happened over the summer in the United States Supreme Court, the petitioners no longer have standing for their case, and as a matter of law, the couples marriage must be recognized regardless of their consideration of her gender, ending a nearly 6 year-long battle for the transgender widow who says, “As long as he doesn’t pull a “Kim Davis”, I will celebrate. I can’t thank my amazing legal team, especially Alene Levy, and am relieved to finally have an opportunity for closure, my grief was delayed because of this absurd case, they hoped I’d give up, I don’t do that. What they did was make me stronger, I look forward to hearing Judge Clapp eat his, prejudicial, bigoted, dismissive words, and be forced to reverse his ruling. He will forever be “that guy” who attacked a widow in her darkest hour and thought it was okay to legally abuse and attack a transgender woman. I am thankful the children have been receiving their survivor benefits all along, and I want them to know that I love them, miss their father, and when they are ready, I have photos, videos and memories to share with them”