Lesbian Couple Seeks Divorce in Rhode Island

In an interesting test of the same-sex marriage barrier, a lesbian couple married in Massachusetts is seeking a divorce in Rhode Island, which does not expressly permit (or expressly bar) gay marriage. Cassandra Ormiston and Margaret Chambers married in 2004 in Massachusetts. It is a request that could be repeated in other cases in other states due to Massachusetts marriage licenses. For some states, such divorces would recognize the underlying marriage’s validity. It also raises the question of the full faith and credit clause, which normally makes such licenses enforceable in other states. For the full story, click here

2 thoughts on “Lesbian Couple Seeks Divorce in Rhode Island”

  1. Very interesting points. My own view, as I expressed in an earlier column, is that the problem is with the noun marriage. I have long argued that states should uniformly adopt the term civil union, which reflects the contractual agreement between two paries to assume liability and responsibility for each other. Marriage is a term that is traced back to religious institutions and an effort to achieve a monopoly over the institution. The state should have no role in this debate. Its sole interest should be the contractual bond between two adults.

  2. From Schmitz Blitz: schmitzblitz.wordpress.com

    I thought it was interesting that the lawyers for the women are stressing that this case would have no bearing on same sex marriage in Rhode Island. I beg to differ. The right to a legal divorce is, perhaps ironically, one of the most important benefits of legal marriage. It provides a legal (and the fairest possible) framework for couples to separate their shared assets and lives.

    It is my hope that this is yet another incremental step towards the recognition of gay marriages in Rhode Island. I think it is a wise choice that the women’s lawyers are steering clear from the topic. If the state legislature works the way it is supposed to, it should, at some point, address the problems of denying gay couples legal equality (as demonstrated by this case) by granting full marriage equality.

    Until then, I think it’s best the courts refrain from finding in favor of gay marriage. They should continue to correct the real inequalities that gay couples face by being denied the right to marry. Maybe then, when straights realize that gay unions are the functional equivalent to heterosexual marriages, they will not feel as passionate as many are now about denying the word ‘marriage’ to gays.

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