TAMPA, Fla. — Transgender people cannot marry as their new sex under Florida law, a state appeals court ruled Friday in setting aside a divorce ruling between a man -- who once was a woman -- and his wife.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland said people who undergo sex changes aren't recognized by their new sex under Florida's marriage laws, which ban same-sex marriages.
It was not known how many marriages the ruling affects since people are not required to prove their sex when seeking a marriage license in Florida.
The ruling came in the case of Michael Kantaras, who underwent a 1987 sex-change operation and then married his wife, Linda, two years later.
His attorney, Karen Doering, called the court's decision "ridiculous."
Michael Kantaras divorced Linda Kantaras in 2002 and was awarded custody of two children -- one child which was his ex-wife's from a prior relationship, the other a daughter she bore in 1992 following artificial insemination.
The appeals court said there was no legal marriage for a Circuit Court to dissolve, and remanded the custody aspect of the case for further proceedings.
"The controlling issue in this case is whether ... the Florida statutes governing marriage authorize a postoperative transsexual to marry in the reassigned sex," the court wrote. "We conclude they do not."
Doering, who practices law for the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Tampa-based Equality Florida, said she would ask the appeals court to send the case to the Florida Supreme Court.
"Michael Kantaras is a man," Doering said. "Michael Kantaras has been a man since 1987 when he completed treatment. This court has just turned common sense on its head."
Michael Kantaras, 45, has since remarried, a union he's being told is invalid, Doering said.
Attorneys for Linda Kantaras applauded the ruling.
"The law cannot permit a person to change their sex like one changes clothes," said Orlando attorney Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, a conservative law group.