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Archive for Monday, March 22, 2004

Transsexual charged with falsely obtaining marriage license

March 22, 2004

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— Sandy Gast had planned to spend the weekend celebrating her wedding. Instead, the 48-year-old transsexual found herself charged with providing false information for her marriage license.

Gast, a man who lives as a woman and intends to be surgically changed to a woman, wanted to marry George "Georgi" Somers, a man who also is living as a woman. The Leavenworth couple had planned to have a wedding Saturday at a church in Topeka.

When Gast filled out the application for the marriage license Feb. 27, she wrote that she was female, but Leavenworth County Atty. Frank Kohl said that court records, including a divorce record from 1999, identify Gast as male.

Leavenworth County Sheriff's deputies arrested Gast on Thursday after prosecutors received a tip from Somers' daughter, Crystal Call. Gast was charged with swearing falsely to apply for a marriage license, a misdemeanor, and released later that day on $2,500 bond.

County attorneys also have filed a motion to quash the marriage license.

Gast did not have a lawyer at a Friday court appearance, and another court date has been set for Wednesday.

Gast, who was born Edward Gast, said she never intended to deceive anyone. She said she has known since she was 7 that her gender was female and not male. She has been undergoing psychotherapy to prepare for a sex-change operation since 1999 and legally changed her name to Sandy Clarissa Gast in September.

She also had her driver's license and birth certificate changed to reflect her female identity. She provided documents to that effect when the couple applied for the marriage license.

Call said she contacted Kohl's office last week because she knew Gast and her father planned to marry Saturday.

"I don't think that's a very moral act," Call said. "I'd read all your Kansas laws on same-sex marriage and I didn't think it was fair."

Kansas law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Meanwhile, a proposed amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage has passed the House and is awaiting a vote in the Senate.

Kohl said that even if Gast went through with the operation, the state would not legally recognize her as a woman.

He cited a 2002 Kansas Supreme Court ruling that a marriage between a man and a transsexual woman was not valid. In that decision, the state's highest court said J'Noel Gardiner was still a man under state law, despite operations in 1994 and 1995 to become female.

The pastor at the church where Gast and Somers planned to marry has now suggested a holy union instead of a marriage ceremony.

"The pastor talked to us and said the holy union under God is just as important. We've changed the entire ceremony and there's no reference to marriage," Somers said.

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