Lesbian couple just wants to divorce
A lesbian couple in Rhode Island is trying to get their state to grant them a divorce after they were married in Massachusetts.
Their lawyers are trying to get the R.I. Supreme Court to rule that they should get un-hitched in the tiny state despite the fact that they can't legally marry there at all.
The case is getting all sorts of attention and fueling the fire for those who think gay marriages should be banned.
Are these two lesbians going to ruin it for everyone? Especially during election year? Way to freakin' go!!!
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A lesbian couple married in Massachusetts should have the same right as heterosexual couples to divorce in their home state of Rhode Island, lawyers for the women told the state's highest court Tuesday.
Cassandra Ormiston and Margaret Chambers were married in 2004 after same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts. Last year, the couple filed for divorce in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island law is silent on the legality of same-sex marriages.
If the women can't divorce in Rhode Island, their lawyers said the only legal avenue available to them would be for at least one to move to Massachusetts and live there long enough to obtain a divorce.
"It is an absolutely unfair burden," Ormiston said outside Rhode Island's Supreme Court. "It is a burden no one else is asked to bear, and it is something I will not do."
Lawyers for the women told the Supreme Court the only question to consider was whether Rhode Island could recognize a valid same-sex marriage from another state for the sole purpose of granting a divorce petition.
They stressed the case has no bearing on whether gay couples could get married in Rhode Island.
"You have a valid marriage in the state of Massachusetts," Louis Pulner, an attorney for Chambers, told the justices. "No one is asking the court to address the question of whether such marriages would be valid in Rhode Island."
Pulner told the court that Rhode Island lawmakers have not passed laws that either expressly permit or prohibit same-sex marriage.
"We're not the Legislature," Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank Williams said.
In September 2006, a Massachusetts judge decided same-sex couples from Rhode Island could marry in Massachusetts because nothing in Rhode Island law specifically banned gay marriage. The courts and the Legislature in Rhode Island also have not taken any action to recognize same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts.
Attorney General Patrick Lynch earlier this year issued a nonbinding advisory opinion saying the state would recognize same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts.
Jenn Steinfeld, director of Marriage Equality Rhode Island, said Rhode Island has a long history of recognizing marriages from other states, and she does not expect that same-sex unions will be any different.
But the questions raised by the divorce case are so narrow that Steinfeld said it's hard to know whether the outcome will have much effect on the broader gay marriage debate here.
Same-sex marriage opponents fear the court would be creating a slippery slope toward allowing gay couples to wed if it permits Chambers and Ormiston to get divorced.
"If they recognize it even for the limited purpose of divorce, what would be the basis for not recognizing it for other limited purposes in the future?" said Austin Nimocks, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, a group opposed to gay marriage.
The justices did not indicate when they would rule.