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Before Same-Sex Marriage, Calls For Same-Sex Divorce In Maryland

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A wedding cake topper shows a lesbian couple in a happier time, but what happens when they want to split up?
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A wedding cake topper shows a lesbian couple in a happier time, but what happens when they want to split up?

The Maryland Court of Appeals is considering a case in which a gay couple no longer in love was denied a divorce after they were legally married in other jurisdiction.

While the same-sex marriage bill passed in Maryland, the law still has yet to go into effect. Gay couples will have to wait until 2013 to wed, which also means gay couples wishing to divorce must also wait.

When Jessica Port and Virginia Anne Cowan decided to go to California and get married four years ago, at a time when same-sex marriage was legal there, they thought it was a holy matrimony that no one could deny.

That was, until they decided to get divorced, says Port.

"The judge said because of the unnatural circumstances of our marriage, we would have a ruling by mail," she says. "And all of the other couples who had come in that day asking for a divorce got a ruling on the spot so we knew that it would be an issue."

Now two years later, the issue still has not been resolved. Since Maryland does not yet recognize same-sex marriage, lower courts would not recognize the divorce. The new same-sex marriage law in Maryland does not expressly address divorce.

The 30-year old says it's too expensive to fly back to California and get a divorce there. Today, she's petitioning Maryland's highest court.

Port's attorneys argue that whether gay marriage in the state is legal or not, Maryland courts should recognize unions legalized in other states.

Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the bill legalizing gay marriage last month, but it doesn't take effect until 2013. Opponents of same-sex unions are seeking a referendum on the statute in the November election.

 

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