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Lesbians Can’t Divorce and Other Must See Marriage Equality Stories

Lesbians Can’t Divorce and Other Must See Marriage Equality Stories

A lot of small but significant things happened on the marriage equality front this past week. Here are the stories that are important to you and what you need to know to keep up with the fight for equality.

1. Florida Couples File Suit for Out-of-State Same-Sex Marriage Recognition

Eight Florida same-sex couples have filed a suit in federal court to obtain the right to have their marriages that were entered into in other states recognized within Florida. This legal challenge is separate from a suit filed in January and takes specific aim at the state’s ban on conducting same-sex marriages within state borders. The lawsuit is also significant in that it also would appear to challenge the remaining portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Section 2, which says that states do not have to recognize gay marriages conducted in other states.

The lawsuit is filed in Florida’s Northern District and is brought by the SAVE Foundation, a grassroots Florida equality group, with the backing of the Florida wing of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

2. Indiana Couples File Second (and Possibly Third) Suit Against the State

Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on Monday, March 10, on behalf of three couples wanting their right to marry recognized by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The lawsuit may not in fact be the only additional suit either, with the ACLU announcing its plans to file a third suit on behalf of 15 more couples, with the express aim of forcing Indiana to recognize marriage equality within the state as well as same-sex marriages that were carried out in other states.

The suits themselves aren’t that different from the first suit filed at the beginning of March, but attempt to bring in different voices from throughout the LGB community. The third lawsuit is also said to include two children of same-sex couples who are ready to testify about the harms the ban has imposed on their families.

3. Arizona’s Marriage Equality Ban Challenged in Federal Court

In addition to a suit filed in Arizona in January, marriage equality advocates have filed another lawsuit in the US District Court in Phoenix. The lawsuit differs from the previous suit as, in addition to seven couples, there are two people whose same-sex partners have died. They aim to detail how the state’s failure to recognize same-sex marriages harmed them by refusing them the right to have their names listed as spouses on their partner’s death certificates.

The suit is also particularly tailored to address the other harms that Arizona’s gay marriage ban causes, namely that because Arizona relies on marriage status to allow couples to jointly adopt, and so same-sex couples are denied this right.

4.  Judge Rules Lesbians Can’t Divorce in Alabama

A same-sex couple who were married in Iowa in 2012 have been refused an uncontested divorce by Judge Karen Hall because, she says, there is no provision under Alabama state law to allow them to even ask for a dissolution because Alabama does not recognize marriage equality in the first place.

The judge returned this ruling without comment, suggesting that she was pointing out, and quite starkly, the way forward for the couple if they wish to seek that right: they must challenge the state’s ban on marriage equality in order to obtain the right to a dissolution. They would have a reasonably strong case, too, as a simple remedy isn’t open to the two women. They can’t just return to Iowa and divorce as they must live within the state for an extended period before they can seek a divorce. This puts an unreasonable burden on them, and should put them in a good position if they challenge the law which their lawyers have said they intend to do.

5. Queen Gives Royal Ascent to Scotland’s Marriage Equality Law

The Queen of England, Elizabeth II, gave what is known as her royal assent to Scotland’s marriage equality law, meaning that the final large procedural hurdle to marriage equality in Scotland is now out of the way. As such, same-sex marriages could now be conducted in Scotland as soon as July.

In the same week, procedural changes in England and Wales have meant that same-sex marriages that were carried out in other countries can now be recognized. Registrars have also started accepting notes of intent to marry, meaning that the countdown to marriage equality within England and Wales is also ticking away.

6. Judge Rules that Plaintiffs Can Marry in Tennessee

Federal Judge Aleta Arthur Trauger granted three same-sex couples in Tennessee a preliminary injunction against the state’s marriage equality ban on the grounds that there is a reasonable chance they will win their suit challenging the state ban.

“At this point, all signs indicate that, in the eyes of the United States Constitution, the plaintiffs’ marriages will be placed on an equal footing with those of heterosexual couples and that proscriptions against same-sex marriage will soon become a footnote in the annals of American history,” the judge is quoted as saying.

Unsurprisingly, the judge based this decision in part on the landmark Supreme Court decision of last year, Windsor v. United States. While this injunction does not affect other same-sex couples in the state, it  signals that in the near future same-sex marriage will come to Tennessee.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock.

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54 comments

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11:09PM PDT on Mar 23, 2014

I got stunned at "lesbians can't divorce"...
So marriage equality got it half-right?

8:39PM PDT on Mar 23, 2014

Karen H. I can't explain it.

My mother actually mentioned once that my brother and his partner had been together longer than all of her marriages put together. Brian and Jimmy were together for 17 years (until my brother died of a heart attack long before there was any chance of them getting legally married in this country) , My mother was married 5 times to 4 men (she married my father twice).

My sister is on her 3rd husband (but it's been almost 20 years on this marriage so it's stuck.)

My grandmother was married to 4 men over 5 times (she married the same man at least twice that we know of and they broke up and got back together repeatedly and I don't know if divorce and remarriage was involved in it) .



11:06AM PDT on Mar 20, 2014

The gay community tries to live "like normal people", but the bigots keep putting up roadblocks. I've got a friend who's on a third marriage while my partner and I have been together and faithful to each other for 24 years, yet we're not allowed to marry "like normal people".
'Splain that, will ya?

10:40PM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

There's only one thing to say about same-sex marriage.
They just want to be miserable as heterosexual couples.

ONLY KIDDING !! ONLY KIDDING !!

7:05PM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

noted

6:25PM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

"Seems like the gay community is too preoccupied in making the lawyers rich than in simply living their lives like normal people." (Micha S.)

Right on! 'Cause heterosexual couples NEVER do "normal" things like getting divorced, do they?

8:32AM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

Go marriage equality!

7:42AM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

If you have married anyone you should be able to divorce them.

6:25AM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

Why? Everybody should have the right to divorce.

4:05AM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

everyone has the right to love and too be loved..as a human being.

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