Maryland High Court Considers Allowing Same-Sex Divorce
Maryland’s highest court is considering whether same sex married couples can be divorced in the State. Maryland currently does not allow same sex couples to marry – that’s clear. The question is whether the State can then extend that prohibition to keep same sex couples from divorcing as well.
As some background, often times gay couples living in aState where same sex marriage is not allowed will visit another more progressive State in order to get married. This creates certain tax and financial complexities for the couple, but they’re willing to live with it for the sake of love. The real problems manifest if the couple later needs to divorce. In a State such as Maryland where the rules are inconsistent, one judge may grant the divorce while another may not. If the couple is not allowed to divorce, they’re stuck in a very painful limbo. They can either stay married – which means they can’t marry anyone else, and are still financially responsible for one another; or they can move to a State that does allow same-sex divorce for long enough to get jurisdiction in that State – which usually takes six months. Those are expensive propositions. Not everyone can afford to uproot their lives and move to another State.
California and the District of Columbia have recently enacted laws to alleviate this problem at least for couples married in their jurisdictions. California enacted the Domestic Partnership Equality Act in January 2012, which allows same-sex couples married in California but living elsewhere to get divorced in California without having to move there. DC passed a bill which does much the same in March of 2012. But those laws only solve part of the problem, as not all same sex couples were married in California and DC.
States that do not recognize same sex marriage should at least allow those couples to divorce in their States. The negative consequences are too great otherwise.
Besides, doesn’t it seem just a little too ironic that a state which says it doesn’t believe in same sex marriage is forcing same sex couples to stay married?