Judge Barbara Nellermoe and husband John Nellermoe
at the 2009 HRC Gala. (Photos:QSanAntonio)
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
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.
Judge Nellermoe at the HRC Gala (2007), the Stonewall
Democrats of San Antonio Awards Banquet (2008) and the Equality Texas
Spirit of Texas Brunch (2009).
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
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
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
Nellermoe will not seek re-election. Her current term is over at the end
of this year.