by Robert Christian -
SGN Guest Contributor
Within the last two months, Washington, D.C. has begun to allow same-sex marriage, and Hawaii now supports, by law, civil unions. The problem is that once a couple has been married, if they must divorce, where do they go?
States across the country are grappling with their stance on Gay divorce. There are only a small few states that allow same-sex marriage, yet one cannot expect these families to remain in the state of their marriage indefinitely; jobs, housing, or other family issues can often force families to relocate.
Under the U.S. Constitution, states generally recognize the laws of other states. Heterosexual marriages and divorces are recognized when a couple moves from one state to another. Couples are not required to get remarried - or re-divorced - each time they relocate. But the rules vary by state for legally married Gay couples, family law experts say. When a same-sex couple wants a divorce, the battle is on to find out what their legal rights are in that state.
This is going to be a battle for the high court. Providing that states would be forced to allow same-sex divorce, in essence, could mean that the federal government would have to also pull the plug on states that have banned same-sex marriage, and force them to not just accept it, but also to offer the same legal protection in divorce cases.
New York state did grant a divorce for a same-sex couple in 2008, but in New York, there is no constitutional amendment banning Gay marriage. With that type of law, it makes it much easier for same-sex couples to divorce and marry.
A Gay divorce has riled up Texas courts, also. Last October, a Gay couple - J.B. and H.B. in court documents - was granted a divorce by a Dallas, Texas, judge. Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general, filed a similar appeal claiming the Texas courts can't grant a divorce.
The case is pending in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas, and has the potential to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court since it involves discrepancies in how state courts have decided on the issue, several legal experts say.
While the battle for marriage equality is on, the part that most everyone can agree on is that "we want equal protection within the law." That means the right to marriage, and the right to divorce.
It shocks me to hear people say that we want equal rights under the law. What we are looking for is equal rights within the law, not under it.
We have yet to see one same-sex marriage in Washington state - or Oregon, for that matter.
The same-sex divorce cases will surely spotlight same-sex marriage and other rights granted by the United States government.