While more states have legalized same-sex marriages, gay couples whose marriages have fallen on hard times continue to find it difficult to legally divorce their spouse. The problem is that some states feel by permitting a same-sex divorce, they are by default acknowledging same-sex marriage.
For example, two women who were married in Massachusetts later moved to Texas, a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage. When the women began divorce proceedings in February 2011, Texas’ general attorney, attempted to stop the judge from allowing their dissolution.
His motion stated that because Texas has a constitutional ban on gay marriage, the judge did not have the authority to grant a divorce. The motion was later thrown out by the judge because it was not filed in a timely manner.
In a more recent case, two men who were married in New York on September 2011, filed for divorce in Ohio. Ohio, like Texas, does not recognize same-sex marriages and civil unions per a 2004 constitutional amendment. A Columbus judge signed off on the couple’s divorce.
Again, the judge hearing the men’s case was met with an onslaught of criticism — called “rogue” by one man in an email to the Columbus Dispatch, a local newspaper.
The attorney for one of the men in the case defended the judge’s decision to hear and approve the divorce; stating that Ohio’s constitutional amendment applies only to same-sex marriage and says nothing about same-sex divorce.
Ultimately, the real hurdle lies in the fact that the federal government does not have a law that acknowledges same-sex marriage or divorce — leaving the decision to approve or disapprove with each state.
Thankfully, as more “rogue judges” are granting gay couples the divorce they desire, men and women in this situation are not trapped in marital limbo.
Source: Edge Boston, “Ohio Judge Grants Gay Couple Divorce,” Jason St. Amand, March 27, 2012