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USA, Florida: Broward County Judge Grants First Same Sex Divorce

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

FloridaIt’s official – a lesbian couple is now divorced in the state of Florida.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Circuit Judge Dale Cohen on Wednesday dissolved the marriage of Heather Brassner and Megan Lade in a brief hearing. They were united in a 2002 civil union in Vermont but Brassner was unable to obtain a divorce in Florida for five years since their relationship ended. “It’s like an emotional weight being lifted off,” said Brassner, who is from Lake Worth. “I just feel free and I couldn’t have gotten a better holiday gift.”

Cohen ruled in August that Florida’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional because it violates the Fourth Amendment’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. Because the ruling came in a divorce case, it has the effect of also declaring that out-of-state gay marriages should be recognized in Florida. It does not mean same-sex marriage licenses can be issued in Broward County.

Judge Cohen’s action comes as a stay in another case is about to expire on 1/5, unless Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas grants an extension.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Florida.

Tennessee Marriage Equality Setback: Judge Upholds Ban in Divorce Case

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Tennessee mapA judge in the case of two men seeking a divorce has upheld the Tennessee marriage equality ban.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

A Tennessee judge has ruled that two men who married in Iowa and later moved to Tennessee cannot be granted a divorce because the state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. In his ruling, Roane County, Tenn., Circuit Court Judge Russell E. Simmons Jr., upheld Tennessee’s ban on same-sex marriage and said state laws now in effect don’t violate the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection and due process rights, reports the Knoxville News Sentinel. “The battle is not between whether or not marriage is a fundamental right but what unions are included in the definition of marriage,” according to Simmons’ ruling.

The judge basically hid behind a state’s rights defense. It’s sad that a couple can be denied a divorce because that would offend someone’s sensibilities about marriage equality.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Tennessee.

European Court Rules Transgender People Must Divorce for Gender Recognition in Many Countries

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Europe MapIn a terribly disappointing ruling, the European Court of Human Rights says countries that do not have marriage equality laws can force transgender people to divorce before recognizing their gender, or prevent them from marrying.

Gay Star News reports:

Married trans people living in countries without same-sex marriage must divorce if they want their true gender recognized, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled. Heli Haemaelaeinen, a Finnish trans woman, lost her case yesterday (16 July). She was told she can only have her female gender recognized if she divorces her wife. The ECHR ruled there is no obligation on states without gay marriage laws to marry two people of the same gender if one of the partners is transgender. The couple, married in 1996 and have a 12-year-old child, wanted to stay together and be married.

Can you imagine being asked to make the choice between being identified as a man or a woman or being able to be married to your partner?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Wurope.

Texas Marriage Equality Cases Stalled?

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Texas mapThree federal cases are moving slowly through the system. The first is awaiting a Fifth Circuit hearing.

The Dallas Voice reports:

In February, a federal San Antonio judge ruled the state’s amendment unconstitutional but stayed his decision after a hearing for a temporary injunction to allow one of the couples in the case to marry. The state appealed the ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. That court declined a petition to expedite the hearing last week, meaning it could take months before the case moves forward.

The other two federal cases may be held up until the first one is decoded, and have their own issues:

The other two Texas federal marriage cases are based in Austin. The state requested those be postponed pending the appeals court ruling in the other case. The Austin judge has yet to rule on the request. Those cases are further complicated because the plaintiffs in one of the cases, Chris McNosky and Sven Stricker, who are representing themselves, came out as straight in a recent interview with Dallas Voice.

There are also three divorce cases working through the system:

Meanwhile in state courts, same-sex divorce cases are moving forward. A San Antonio lesbian couple filed for divorce in March. The state tried to intervene, but a federal judge ruled that he cannot interfere. The couple has a child and wants the custody issue determined during court proceedings. Then in mid-May, a Tarrant County lesbian couple followed suit and filed to dissolve their union. Two same-sex divorce cases are currently being considered at the Texas Supreme Court. Hearings took place in November with a ruling expected in early summer before the court recess. But Jody Scheske, the couples’ attorney, said Texas doesn’t have a deadline for justices to issue a ruling. A controversial case they ruled on a few years ago took about four years before a decision was issued.

No word on if, or when any of these Texas marriage equality cases will be resolved.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Texas.

USA, Texas: State Judge Rules Marriage Equality Ban Unconstitutional in Divorce Case

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Texas mapAnother ruling out of Texas, this one regarding the divorce of two women married in DC.

Joe.My.God reports:

In late February, a federal judge ruled that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and stayed his ruling pending appeal. A state judge has now ruled likewise, paving the way for a San Antonio couple to proceed with their divorce and child custody case. The latest ruling comes in response to a same-sex divorce lawsuit that was filed in Bexar County in February by Allison Leona Flood Lesh and Kristi Lyn Lesh, who were married in Washington, D.C., in August 2010. Kristi Lesh became pregnant through artificial insemination during the marriage and gave birth Feb. 19, 2013. Her attorney argued that because Allison Flood Lesh isn’t the biological or adoptive parent, Kristi Lesh should retain sole custody. Allison Flood Lesh is seeking to split custody of the child. Because Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, there’s also no legal avenue available to pursue a divorce.

I’ve always thought it was strange that folks who don’t want gays to marry in the first place fight so hard to keep them from getting divorced once they do. I get the legal principle, but still…

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Texas.

Nebraska: Lesbian Couple Asks for Divorce

Friday, March 28th, 2014

NebraskaA lesbian couple has asked for a divorce in a case that could challenge the state’s marriage equality ban.

The Journal Star reports:

A Raymond woman who married her longtime, same-sex partner in Iowa in 2009 is now petitioning the Nebraska Supreme Court to be allowed to divorce.

How many states are left that don’t either have full marriage equality or have a lawsuit pending?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Nebraska.

We need same-sex marriage so we can get divorced

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

 An Opinion Article

By Melanie Nathan, December 26, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 5.28.38 AMWhile we tend to tout equality only in the light of love, there is another glaring truth that we barely speak of; same-gender couples need marriage so they can get divorced. That is when, as a civil law institution, having marriage is imperative. Of course we need certain laws, such as tax laws, hospital visits, pensions etc., during marriage and hence we can make the argument why coupling without the choice to marry is unfair.  However we hardly ever make the argument that we need marriage so we can get divorced; we need it to define how we break up. Most people when advocating for our marriage rights, lose sight of this critical argument as to why it is so important to have parity under the law.

For years our gay and lesbian community has suffered the impact of not having the same rights as heterosexuals, who can choose to marry, regardless of what State they live in.  For years we have heard the religious right brow beat us into thinking that marriage is all about a Biblical interpretation of what God wants for all humans.  Let us not forget what marriage really is.  The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures, but it is principally a social union in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged.   However as important is the fact that marriage is a binding legal contract between two people, that establishes uniform rights and obligations between two spouses, and between the spouses in relation to their children.

So while same-gender couples are denied the benefit of civil marriage laws in many places, the greatest difficulty of not being married, is experienced when one needs a divorce, when it comes to the break up.  Same-sex couples are thus denied the advantage of clarity under the law, where their rights and obligations enjoy clear definition, causing uncertainty and prejudice at the time of termination. So one of the most important reasons for getting married is so that we can have clarity and fairness when it comes time to divorce.Why

I have been privy to the enormous impact of the lack of law to govern broken gay and lesbian relationships, where for example couples have been together treating their relationship as if married, for many years.  More often than not these couples experience serious imbalance in the financial and parenting aspects of the relationships.   Especially where one partner has stayed at home as a homemaker, while the other has an enhanced career.  Some relationships carry on for years, as if marital, yet without applicable laws, and unless one enters into written partnership agreements, early on, proving the intention of the financial understanding in the relationship, can be very difficult at the time of termination.

How to help couples who do not have marriage laws to define their breakup:
These types  of breakups are best served by mediation, using an experienced neutral third party, who has an understanding of the issues of same-sex couples, deprived of legal clarity, through lack of equal laws. Obviously married couples are also well served by mediation, in most cases.

It is the mediator who can ensure one or more of the  (non-exhaustive) following, depending on the individual case:-

1. Helping parties understand the law that ought to have applied to a relationship, but did not;

2. Helping parties define and reach agreement as to their intentions toward each other during the relationship;

3. Helping parties honor their commitments to each other, regardless of lack of law;

4. Creating an environment of understanding where each party validates the position of the other, thereby dispelling the assumptions that cause conflict;

5. Helping parents place the best interests of the children at the fore:

6. Ensuring smooth transitions by creating plans that include financial support and interim custody/parenting plans, pending final settlement;

7. Ensuring the parties are equally empowered through external resources;

8. Keeping the process productive and preventing unnecessary legal expenses, through early management of conflict and the avoidance of litigation;

9. Allowing the partners to control the outcome by reaching a fair agreement that creates a win/win scenario rather than a win/lose scenario.


USA, Mississippi: Judge Denies Divorce to Lesbian Couple

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Mississippi MapA Judge in Jackson, Mississippi, won’t let a lesbian couple who married in California get a divorce.

The Albuquerque Journal reports:

A Mississippi judge on Monday refused to grant a divorce to a lesbian couple who got married in California, saying the marriage wasn’t recognized under state law, according to the woman who filed and her lawyer. Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham, who filed for the divorce in September in north Mississippi’s DeSoto County, said in a telephone interview Monday that the judge seemed sympathetic and that she plans to appeal the ruling.

Even having a democrat in the AG office doesn’t make a difference in this blood-red state:

Democrat Attorney General Jim Hood’s office had argued that Mississippi can’t grant a divorce in a marriage it doesn’t recognize. Hood’s office said in a motion to intervene on Nov. 15 that Mississippi “has no obligation to give effect to California laws that are contrary to Mississippi’s expressly stated public policy.”

This is one of the next big battles in marriage equality – the right to divorce when things go wrong.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Mississippi.

The Lay of the Land Post-Windsor and –Perry

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

With marriage equality now coming to Illinois and Hawaii, nearly 40% of the country lives in a marriage equality state. But just how federal and state governments will navigate the still-unsettled reality (and consequences) of marriage equality remains an open question.

Although Windsor invalidated Section 3 of DOMA, it left Section 2 in place, which allows states to refuse to recognize same gender marriages performed in other states. Marriages are not judgments or orders, and are therefore not entitled to equality under constitutional principles of full faith and credit among the states. This has the potential to impact benefits, parental rights, divorce, and other issues for same-sex couples depending on where they marry and where they live.

Read the full story on the MEUSA news blog…

USA, Kentucky: Lesbian Couple Files for Divorce

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

KentuckyTesting Kentucky’s anti gay laws, a lesbian couple is attempting to file for divorce in the state.

Gay Star News reports:

Alysha and Rebecca Sue Romero married in Boston, Massachusetts in December 2009, but seperated in September this year. They filed for divorce on 25 October. However, as same-sex marriage is banned in Kentucky, and the state does not recognize such marriages performed elsewhere, the court will have not choice but to throw out their case. This may mean the couple could be forced to move back to Massachusetts and live there for a year to meet that state’s residency requirements before they are eligible for divorce. Alysha, 29, said: ‘I have a career here, a life here, and I think I should have the same right as a heterosexual to divorce here.’

Can you imagine having to give up your life and career just to get divorced?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Kentucky.