Humanity, Equality, and Justice Vanished
an interview with Christie Lee Littleton by Tere Frederickson
San Antonio Community News, January 2000
Christie Lee Littleton’s dreams came true. She fell in love and got married to the man of her dreams. The couple was devoted heart and soul to each other. For seven years, it was the storybook life. Christie took her wedding vows seriously. They cared for each other in sickness and in health. They laughed and they cried together. In today’s world of broken and failed marriages, theirs was the exception. It worked and lasted.
Her husband suddenly became ill, and in what appeared to be medical malfeasance or at the least indifference, he died within a few hours of visiting the doctor. Christie was devastated. For three years she mourned his passing. True to her vows, she was faithful to him until death parted their lives, yet she still found it difficult to get her life without her husband back together. Her business suffered and she became reclusive.
Only now, years later, has she regained her vibrancy and sense of life. She is the caretaker of her neighborhood. Her doors are always open to people needing help, and she helps them in every way she can.
When Christie recovered from her grief, she sought justice for what happened to her husband. It wasn’t about money; it was about her belief that her husband could have survived had he received better care. She didn’t want others to have to go through similar fates with the needless death of a loved one.
She filed suit for wrongful death—it seemed simple enough. These suits are filed every day. The insurance company’s attorneys attacked Christie herself rather than deal with the issue before the court. They raised the premise that since Christie was originally listed as "male" on her birth certificate, her marriage was void because same-sex marriages are not allowed under Texas law. This was despite the fact that Christie had complied with all medical and legal requirements in Texas to amend her documentary gender markers. Surprisingly, the judge fell hook, line, and sinker for the defendant’s bait rather than ruling it as immaterial to the case.
On appeal, the appeals court justices also sided with the defense’s legal prestidigitation. Despite acknowledging that Christie had complied with all medical and legal requirements, the justices ignored it, opting for the extremist religious-based views of their narrow-minded constituency. The lip-servers of "family values" decided that Christie’s marriage and her devotion to her husband was of no consequence and not to be recognized by the state as valid.
She grieved once when her husband died; she grieved again when the state cavalierly struck down her marriage—the marriage vows she believed so much in fulfilling. With the stroke of a pen, the judicial system in Texas dealt a lethal blow to humanity, equality, and justice. If a legal marriage can be so easily dismissed, what’s next for morality? We’ll let the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons spout their "moral" indignations, ignoring the fact that Christie was in a valid, legal marriage fully recognized by the state and federal governments for seven years. Can the legal system so easily say, "Oops, the county clerks goofed and the Texas legislature didn’t mean it when they drafted the laws concerning Christie’s legal status." Is it that easy to cast humanity into the trash heap?
Where does Christie go from here? She has decided to fight; to fight for her right to have her love for her husband and their marriage recognized as valid. Christie intends to appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, and beyond if necessary.
Those of us with a modicum of principle may consider helping to right the court’s wrong and bring humanity and justice back to the legal system.
January 2000, © copyright to San Antonio Community News
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