But Enough About Gay Marriage–What About Gay Divorce?

Gay Divorce

Here’s one bit of Kafka-esque nightmare for you: due to the hodgepodge of state law on gay marriage, it turns out that it might well be virtually legally impossible for a gay couple to get a divorce.

Then-Gov. Mitt Romney, a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage, had already ordered some Massachusetts cities to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples who lived outside the state, and Ormiston and Chambers hoped to get to nearby Fall River before the ban took effect there.

“I was so elated,” Ormiston said. “When I was in college, I was Chapter 9 in abnormal psych. To be able to marry the woman I loved at the age of 58 — my feet didn’t touch the ground for days.”

Then, after two years of marriage, the 10-year relationship soured, and Chambers filed for divorce. That put the couple into a legal limbo that is becoming increasingly common as same-sex couples married in one state try to divorce in another.

A judge in Family Court, where divorces are handled, asked the Rhode Island Supreme Court for a ruling on whether his court had jurisdiction, given that Rhode Island doesn’t recognize gay marriage. The state Supreme Court decided that the women weren’t legally married in the eyes of the state and therefore couldn’t get divorced.

Chambers then tried filing for divorce in the state’s Superior Court, but last month a judge there ruled that the court had no jurisdiction over marriage dissolutions. A Massachusetts divorce isn’t an option because only residents who have lived in the state for a year can file there.

“They’ve given us no choice but to be married forever,” said Ormiston. “Their worst nightmare.”

Read the whole thing. My non-legally binding advice to gay couples–make sure you’re getting married because you want to get married, and not just because it’s a new thing. Come to think of it, that’s good advice for any couple.

(link via Kevin Drum and cross-posted to Heretical Ideas)

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Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.


  1. DL says:

    Hey, as long as they’re still fwens….

  2. Patrick T McGuire says:

    Gives new meaning to the phrase “Till death do you part”.

  3. joe says:

    New York, California, Vermont and other states are going to have to write guidelines for same-sex divorce ASAP. It’s a reality they aren’t prepared for.

  4. Bruce Moomaw says:

    DL clearly thinks he’s a wit. Alas, he’s only half right.

  5. Excuse me, but they do have a choice. Their choice is to either be married forever, or move to Massachusetts temporarily. Indeed, only one of them has to move there, so they don’t even have to stay together. There’s no law against gay separation, is there?

    There are few things that annoy me as much as people who say “I don’t get what I really want, so I can’t have anything”. If you’re too damn stupid to find a solution to your problems, maybe you deserve to have them.

    Formerly homeless, so don’t even try to tell me I “don’t understand”.