- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2007

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Lawrence Roach agreed to pay alimony to the woman he divorced, not the man she became after a sex change, his lawyers argued in an effort to end the payments.

But the ex-wife’s attorneys argued yesterday that the operation doesn’t alter the agreement.

Less than a week after commissioners in nearby Largo drew national attention by firing the city manager after he announced he was a transsexual, lawyers for Mr. Roach and his ex-wife grappled in another transsexual rights case that delves into relatively uncharted legal territory.

Only a 2004 Ohio case has addressed whether or not a transsexual can still collect alimony after a sex change, those involved say.

“There is not a lot out there to help us,” Circuit Judge Jack R. St. Arnold said.

Mr. Roach and his wife, Julia, divorced in 2004 after 18 years of marriage. The 48-year-old utility worker agreed to pay her $1,250 a month in alimony. Since then, Mrs. Roach, 55, had a sex change and legally changed her name to Julio Roberto Silverwolf.

“It’s illegal for a man to marry a man, and it should likewise be illegal for a man to pay alimony to a man,” said John McGuire, one of Mr. Roach’s attorneys. “When she changed to man, I believe she terminated that alimony.”

His ex-wife did not appear in court yesterday and has declined to talk about the divorce except through attorney Gregory Nevins. He said the language of the divorce decree is clear and firm — Mr. Roach agreed to pay alimony until his ex-wife dies or remarries.

“Those two things haven’t happened,” said Mr. Nevins, a senior staff attorney with the national homosexual rights group Lambda Legal.

Judge Arnold found fault with several of Mr. Roach’s legal arguments and noted that appeals courts have declined to legally recognize a sex change in Florida when it comes to marriage. The appellate court “is telling us you are what you are when you are born,” Judge Arnold said.

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