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S. A. Judge denies state's bid to intervene in gay divorce
Express-News.com, May 15, 2014
A San Antonio judge Wednesday denied a bid from the state of Texas to stop divorce and child-custody proceedings between a same-sex couple. State District Judge Barbara Nellermoe also set a custody hearing for May 29 in which Kristi Lesh and Allison Flood Lesh will fight over custody of their nearly 15-month-old daughter.

Judge in same-sex divorce case well-respected in LGBT community
QSanAntonio, April 29, 2014

When State District Judge Barbara Nellermoe ruled Texas' restrictions on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on April 22, it was the first time many San Antonians had seen her name in the news. However, in the city's LGBT community, the judge is a well-known ally who has long supported equality for all citizens.

Last week's ruling involves a lesbian couple who were married in Washington DC but now want a divorce in Bexar County in additon to settling a child custody dispute. Since Texas law forbids same-sex unions, it does not grant divorces to same-sex couples.

In her decision Nellermoe wrote that “in a well-reasoned opinion by Judge Orlando Garcia, the federal district court found that a state cannot do what the federal government cannot — that is, it cannot discriminate against same-sex couples . . . By denying their parents the right to marry, Texas has created a suspect classification of children who are denied equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment."

According to the Austin American-Statesman, Nellermoe "said she relied heavily on February’s opinion by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, who ruled that the Texas ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because it relegates gay couples to second-tier status and demeans their dignity for no legitimate reason."

Nellermoe's decision allowed the couple's divorce proceedings and child custody battle to continue. However two days later, a state appeals court, on the urging of Attorney General Greg Abbot, granted an emergency stay delaying the ruling in order to consider the attorney general's request to vacate the decision because it's a violation of the judge's authority.

News of Nellermoe's decision spread quickly via the internet and social media, putting her into the national limelight. Her local LGBT supporters were encouraged by the ruling.

Amy Stone, associate professor of sociology and anthropology at Trinity University, told the San Antonio Express-News, “In opposite-sex relationships, the parentage is never questioned, even when a child has been conceived through artificial insemination. So what happens in same-sex relationships is that a child loses a parent, who he loves and considers a parent, and a parent loses a child. It's very traumatic. So I find this ruling heartening. It's giving this parent at least some standing, and that's progress.”

Since taking the bench as judge of the 45th District in 2003, Nellermoe has heard numerous cases involving same-sex adoptions and child custody cases as well as legal name change applications for transgender individuals. Over the years, she developed a reputation for being a fair-minded arbiter when dealing with LGBT litigants.

In her campaigns for office (as a Democrat), Nellermoe reached out to LGBT voters. She often attends community events.

The judge has been honored by Equality Texas (2009 Advocate Award), the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio (2008 Political Advocacy Award) and the local chapter of the Human Rights Campaign (2007 Equality Award).

According to her biography on the the Bexar County web site, Nellermoe is the editor-in-chief of San Antonio Lawyer magazine and past president of the Bexar County Women's Bar Association.

She received her law degree in 1983 from St. Mary's University where she served as editor-in-chief of the school's law journal.

Prior to her career as a judge, Nellermoe worked as corporate counsel for Clear Channel Communications and in private practice where she worked with clients in environmental, banking, securities, and other types of commercial litigation.

Nellermoe will not seek re-election. Her current term is over at the end of this year.