Nikki Araguz

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Nikki Araguz Loyd
Casual Headshot of Nikki Araguz October 2011.jpg
Born Justin Graham Purdue
(1975-06-04) June 4, 1975 (age 39)[citation needed]

Nikki Araguz Loyd (born Justin Graham Purdue, June 4, 1975 in Carmel, California)[citation needed] is an American marriage equality activist, author, and public speaker.

As an advocate for marriage equality, she met with Legislators in Austin, TX, and spoke in front of the Capitol Building to express opposition of Texas Senate Bill 723. In May 2011, Nikki was honored at the Harvey Bernard Milk Rally in Austin, with a poster signed by countless supporters. On June 4, 2011, Nikki Araguz joined local and national LGBT community members and supporters attending the Human Rights Campaign Gala celebrating "The Heartbeat of Equality."

In Dallas, Nikki was a guest host on Reckless After Dark, the popular LGBT radio show hosted by Chase Brooks. June 25, 2011, she rode in the Houston Gay Pride Parade, on the float sponsored by her legal team, Katine & Nechman, L.L.P.

Personal life[edit]

Nikki's media background and several years in advertising led to publishing Wharton County Living Magazine.

Nikki now lives in Houston and as of 2013 was remarried to William Loyd, and with him runs an Art Gallery. Nikki is still active in the fight for equality

Marriage to Thomas Araguz[edit]

Married on August 23, 2008, Nikki and Thomas Araguz lived in Wharton, TX, with Thomas' two sons from a prior marriage.

Thomas attended classes at Wharton County College and earned certifications in the Police Academy, Fire Academy and was an EMT. Nikki worked as a Sales Executive and Sales Manager for a Houston GLBT magazine. Thomas served Wharton as a volunteer firefighter, and after marrying Nikki, became a Sheriff's Deputy and completed courses required for paid firefighters.

Death of Thomas[edit]

On July 3, 2010, Captain Araguz answered the call to fight a fire at an egg plant in Boling, Texas and went missing for several hours.[1][dead link] At the time of the fire Nikki was on a business trip and was not made aware he was missing. Nikki learned of Thomas' death from a posting on a social networking site by another fireman's wife. Upon her return to Wharton, Nikki's in-laws prevented her from seeing her stepchildren.

Legal Battle[edit]

The morning after Thomas' burial, Nikki learned that two separate lawsuits had been filed by his family in an attempt to take away her benefits as a firefighter's spouse, though Thomas had specifically named her as beneficiary in one instance.[2] Thomas' family claimed that since Araguz was born male, she was not female at the time of her marriage to Thomas and that the marriage should be invalidated.[3] On May 26, 2011, State District Judge Randy Clapp ruled in favor of Thomas' family and nullified the marriage.[4]

Nikki's widow's benefits are being withheld during litigation until a final outcome, which could be lengthy. Araguz appeared in Court on November 14, 2011, hoping to have Judge Clapp's ruling overturned.[5] That action was not successful, and Araguz was hoping for a hearing before the appeals court in Corpus Christi in the spring of 2013.

In February 2014, the 13th Court of Appeals ruled that Araguz will get another chance to litigate the case in a state district courtroom.[6] Specifically, the appellate court voided the state district court judge's summary judgment in favor of Thomas Araguz's parents and ordered the case returned to the original courtroom for further litigation.[7]

Legal troubles[edit]

On January 25, 2012, Araguz pled guilty to stealing a Rolex watch from another woman and was sentenced to 50 days in jail.[8]