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This blog is frequently the site of things best labeled whimsical, absurd or “emotionally damaging on a seismic level” (jeez, you piss off ONE short fiction critic…). However, today I would like to focus your attention on a situation that’s developed in Texas. A situation that not only boggles the mind, but sickens the heart and rends the soul. Today, I’d like to talk to you about Nikki Araguz.
Imagine, if you will, that your husband has just died; in fact, he not only died, but died a hero in the line of duty as a firefighter. Your entire world has come crashing down; you’ve lost your love, you’ve lost your stability, you’ve lost the person with whom you thought you would spend the rest of your life. And then, in the wake of this tragedy, his mother freezes your assets – ALL OF THEM – rendering you a pauper. She then takes you to court, where she claims you are neither a widow nor a woman. Adding insult to injury, she attempts to claim the assets you and your husband gained during the course of your marriage – despite the fact that YOU were the primary wage earner. You are then subjected not only to the most heinous libel and slander, but dragged under the microscope of the court system: your marriage, your gender, your very identity questioned while the media vultures feast and the bigots and tiny-minded haters circle like sharks. Your assets are frozen, your home is barred to you – you’re forced to eke out an existence while living off charity.
And remember, you’re doing all this while mourning the death of your husband.
These are the circumstances under which Nikki Araguz is living. This transwoman from Huston, Texas is engaged in a nasty battle with her dead husband’s mother over the disposition of his estate. The mother, one Simona Rodriguez Longoria, is claiming that Nikki’s marriage to Captain Thomas Araguz is invalid because Nikki was born genetically male. She is demanding that all shared assets be rewarded instead to her, ostensibly for dispersal to Captain Araguz’ children from a previous marriage, but as in all cases of this scope, there are very real concerns that Mrs. Longoria is simply acting out of hate and greed to seize the assets of a woman who is easy to victimize due to antiquated laws that no longer reflect the reality in which we live. She is, in effect, saying that Nikki is not a woman, and that she deserves nothing, not even acknowledgment as the grieving widow she so clearly is. By attacking Nikki’s identity, Longoria and her lawyers are attacking her status as not only a woman and a citizen, but as a human being.
The alleged motives for the suit – to secure the futures of the Araguz children from Captain Araguz’ first marriage -are moot, as Texas law dictates that they will not only receive half of the estate and half of the sizable life insurance settlement, but also full rides to the college of their choice in Texas (as will their offspring) thanks to the generous benefits afforded firefighters who die in the line of duty. No, the closer one looks at the behavior of Nikki’s accusers, the clearer it becomes that this is a smear campaign, motivated by naked greed and blind hate.
Mrs. Longoria has announced her intention to “freeze Nikki out” of all her assets, in an attempt to beggar her and compromise her ability to defend herself adequately. Below is a video of Nikki’s press conference to respond to Mrs. Longoria’s actions and accusations:
Where is the compassion for a woman who’s lost her husband?
Where is the acknowledgment of the precious “sanctity of marriage” that these bigots are forever prattling on about?
Where, I ask, is justice for Nikki?