HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com
AUGUST 27, 2004 21
I local cover story
Gonzales: cross dressing 'didn't bother me'
GONZALES, continued from Page 1
that I figured I could live with that."
By the time the couple married on Oct.
31, 1998 in Las Vegas, James H. Murphy
had officially changed his name to Linda
Gail Carter, and that is the name recorded
on the marriage license.
Gonzales said Murphy told her at the
time that he wanted a woman's name
even though he didn't plan to live as a
It isn't often that divorce proceedings
receive citywide media coverage, but the
divorce of Constance Gonzales and Linda
Gail Carter proved to be a story that garnered Houston's full court press.
Carter sought to have the marriage dissolved on the basis that two women could
not legally marry in Nevada, where the
marriage took place, or in the state of
Texas, where the two lived.
Dissolution of the marriage would have
returned the property the two held to
Carter claimed to have undergone hormone therapy in preparation for a sex
change operation that was put on hold
because of heart trouble.
In the end, 310th District Judge Lisa
Millard ruled in July that Linda Gail
Carter was biologically and legally a
man, and she granted the couple a
divorce. The judge awarded 65 percent of
the property to Gonzales and 35 percent
Gonzales refers to Carter as "Jim,"
someone whom she said, aside from having an affinity for women's clothes, was a
man in their marriage and a generous and
loving stepfather and grandfather.
In 1995, Gonzales went to work for
James H. Murphy at his wedding chapel
business in Galveston.
He was in Houston on business part of
the week, and he needed someone to run
the chapel and to look in on his parents
from time to time, she said.
"Jim was so laid back, so even tempered,"
she said "It was like fresh air to go down
there. I decided I liked this environment."
In July 1996, Gonzales said, she leaned
on a second-story railing while watering
plants at Murphy's house in Galveston,
and the railing gave way.
Her injuries were severe enough to put
her in the hospital for four months. When
she was allowed to go home, doctors said
she would need to be in traction for
months and to have 24-hour nursing care.
Murphy arranged for the equipment
and nursing care and took her to his house.
"I was totally dependent on him," she
"He cooked my meals. He was there for
me. I cannot deny that. It's very hard not
have a love for someone like that."
When she was up and around after several months, Gonzales said, "We were a
couple. That was it."
The couple bought property together,
including a funeral home in Houston.
Gonzales said Murphy encouraged her
children, Trey Gonazles and Carly
Bernhardt, to become licensed funeral
When Murphy became ill with heart
trouble, Gonzales said, operation of the
business fell more and more to her children. He moved to Nacogdoches to convalesce and go into the gaming business with
a female friend.
On Aug. 19, 2003, Gonzales was served
with divorce papers that read: "A suit to
declare void the purported marriage of
Linda Gail Carter and Constance D.
Carter dressed as
a woman in court
On the first day in court, Gonzales said,
"He [Carter] was dressed as a woman."
Gonzales said Carter's appearance surprised her, since he rarely wore women's
clothes when the two were together and
never wore them around her children.
After a few months, she said, Carter
began coming to court dressed as a man.
In court documents, Carter accused
Gonzales and her children of conspiring to
take away the business by changing the
name of the funeral home and siphoning
money into a bank account set up under
the new name.
But, Gonzales said, the name of the
business was changed to protect its
Among files of well-organized documents related to the divorce, she pulls out
copies of checks totaling more than
$260,000 from her own account that wrote
to the businesses she and Carter owned
or were buying.
"My whole retirement money is here,"
The business holdings are now in
receivership, and Gonzales said, the assets
will be sold to divide the property Carter is
to pay all attorney's fees, court costs and
Gonzales and her children will continue
to operate the funeral home until property
Although the divorce was often contentious, with police summoned to the
funeral home, phone lines at the business
diverted and accusations hurled, Gonzales
doesn't to speak ill of Carter.
"He was the man 1 thought I was going
to live with through my dying days,"
A FratKtSCan Thursday, September 2
Spiritual Outreach PoHuck 7pm ,
PWA Coalition, speaker
Friday, Aug 27
Moyie Nigh. 7pm Monday S.p..n-b«-6
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Offering Peace &
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Monday, Aug 30
Eucharist 7:30pm Fnda* **T*?* 10
Movie Night 7pm
Grammy and Dove Award Winning Singer
"The most awesome voice in
— BILLBOARD MAGAZINE
"Let me stand beside the oppressed,
broken, disenfranchised and the
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— cynthia clawson
Sunday, Sept. l 2TH, 2004 — 6:30 PM
Bering Memorial United Methodist Church
1440 harold at mulberry • www.beringumc.org
tickets $30, $25 and $15 at boxofficetickets.com
AND 1-800-494-TIXS (8797)
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