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US: Lesbian couple can't get divorced

Sat 8 Dec 2007 In: International News View at Wayback

A lesbian couple from the US state of Rhode Island are hoping their state will recognise their marriage - because they now want a divorce. In a split ruling, Rhode Island's Supreme Court said on Friday that the couple, who married in Massachusetts, cannot get divorced in their home state of Rhode Island. The case involves Margaret R. Chambers and Cassandra B. Ormiston who were married in 2004. Because Rhode Island has no specific law banning same-sex marriage gay and lesbian couples can go to Massachusetts to marry. But those marriages are not recognized in Rhode Island. Last year the Chambers and Ormiston filed for divorce in Providence, citing "irreconcilable differences". Because of the lack of specific legislation on same-sex marriage Chief Family Court Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah Jr. said he did not know if he could rule without taking up the issue of marriage. He asked the Supreme Court justices to determine if he has the authority to hear the case. When the high court took up the case it limited arguments solely to the issue of divorce, leaving marriage for same-sex couples in limbo. Attorneys for the two the women had said the court should consider only the comity provision of the US Constitution. Writing for the majority, Justice William Robinson III said that the Family Court could only deal with the divorce if the General Assembly gives that court the power to grant divorces to same-sex couples. Earlier this year a House committee held public hearings into three separate bills that would recognize in varying ways same-sex relationships with only one offering marriage but none of the bills has advanced.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Saturday, 8th December 2007 - 10:41am

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