Gay Divorce Hub




Judge Grants Florida's First Gay Divorce

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c71b6664970b-800wiBroward County Judge Dale Cohen, who in August ruled that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state and recently re-affirmed that decision, has granted the state's first gay divorce. The decision comes on the heels of the announcement from the U.S. Supreme Court that Justice Clarence Thomas will consider to stay another Florida Judge's ruling striking down the state's same-sex marriage ban. The AP reports:

Circuit Judge Dale Cohen on Wednesday dissolved the marriage of Heather Brassner and Megan Lade. They were united in a 2002 civil union in Vermont. Cohen had ruled in August that Florida's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional and that out-of-state gay marriages should be recognized.

Brassner attorney Nancy Brodzki said it was Florida's first gay divorce.

Brodzki says she expects Attorney General Pam Bondi to appeal the decision, just as she has several other rulings against the gay marriage ban. There was no immediate reaction from Bondi's office.

Voters approved the ban in 2008.


Lesbian Chicago Councilwoman Deborah Mell Announces Divorce

Mell

Though same-sex marriage just became legal in Illinois, one prominent same-sex couple in the Land of Lincoln is calling it quits. Deborah Mell, the first openly lesbian member of Chicago’s City Council, announced on Twitter last week that she and wife Christin Baker will be parting ways. The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

"Dear Friends, It is with great sadness I tell you my marriage with Christin has ended. As you know divorce is painful, therefore we ask for privacy as we go through this process. Thank you for your continued support and understanding," Mell wrote on Twitter.  She could not be reached for comment, but the Chicago Sun-Times independently confirmed the news that the couple that had so publicly celebrated their love, were now splitting. […]

Mell married Baker, a onetime national director for the YMCA, in a ceremony in Iowa in 2011. Mell became the first high-profile elected official in Illinois to publicly enter into a same-sex marriage. In June, Baker took a position with Daxko Consulting, which is based in Birmingham, Alabama.

Mell was outspoken in Illinois’ fight for marriage equality and memorably announced her engagement to Baker on the Illinois House floor back in 2010. 


Gay Catholic School Vice Principal Was Given A Choice - Divorce Or Be Fired: VIDEO

Crittenden and Zmuda

A few days ago we brought you the news story of Mark Zmuda, a Catholic high school vice principal who was fired for marrying his husband and the backlash from students and faculty that resulted. The school maintained the position that it was a mutually-reached decision that Zmuda end his employment with Eastside Catholic High School, but an interview between Zmuda and a former student reveals otherwise. 

Caterina Crittenden conducted a 45-minute interview with her former vice principal about his employment and termination, and her family has released the first minute of it online, with the rest to follow in the coming days. In the interview, Zmuda revealed that he broke no contract with the school, that his termination was in no way related to his performance, and that he was given an offer that would never have been given to a straight couple: he could keep his job if he dissolved his marriage.

On the part of the school, President Sister Mary Tracy claimed that she was trying to do everything she could to keep Zmuda. The decision to terminate him was that of the church, not of the school, and the option to dissolve the marriage was a last-ditch effort to retain Zmuda and his services. Sister Mary Tracy says that she is not proud of making that offer, but owns that she made it.

The clip of the interview between Zmuda and Crittenden can be seen AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Catholic School Vice Principal Was Given A Choice - Divorce Or Be Fired: VIDEO" »


Texas Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Whether State Can Grant Divorce to Gay Couples: VIDEO

Back in August, we reported on two gay couples in Texas who were bringing their divorce cases all the way to the state Supreme Court in a challenge of the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Both couples originally married in Massachusetts several years ago and later filed for divorce in Texas. The Dallas Morning News reports:

ScheskeTheir attorney, James Scheske [pictured right], told the all-Republican court Tuesday that Texas' gay marriage ban doesn't bar same-sex divorces because divorce is covered under a separate section of family law. Furthermore, he argued that the state can't dispute that the couple were legally married elsewhere.

"Texas can't prevent its gay and lesbian citizens from getting married" and returning home, he said. "There's no dispute my clients were married."

Several justices asked how granting a divorce could not be an official recognition of marriage. 

"Don't you have to presume there is a legal marriage (to grant a divorce)?" Justice Don Willet asked Scheske.

Check out a news report of the case, AFTER THE JUMP...

Justices also brought up the broader issue of the constitutionality of Texas' gay marriage ban itself, with Willet asking Scheskie if the ban is "driven by irrational animus" against homosexuals.

Scheske argued that the gay marriage ban is unconstitutional because it treats same-sex couples as "second-class" citizens. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act because it treated same-sex couples unequally.

"If we haven't learned anything from the U.S. Supreme Court cases the last 60 years, we should have learned that forcing a targeted group of citizens into a separate and unequal court procedure is never constitutional. That's what happens here." Scheske said.

AbbottBack in 2009, when one of the couples originally filed for divorce, Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor next year, intervened and invoked DOMA, "which specifically protects the rights of states to refuse to recognize or give effect to marriages between persons of the same sex..."

It remains to be seen how the Texas Supreme Court will handle this legal predicament, especially considering this is one of the first serious challenges to the state's anti-gay constitutional amendment since it was implemented in 2005.  The court is not expected to issue a ruling for several months.

Continue reading "Texas Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Whether State Can Grant Divorce to Gay Couples: VIDEO" »


Woman Asks State of Mississippi to Recognize Divorce from Her Wife

Mississippi Flag

In yet another test of the country's post-DOMA landscape, a woman residing in Southaven, Mississippi is asking for recognition of her out-of-state marriage to her wife so that she can be granted a divorce. The AP reports that Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham's marriage to Dana Ann Melancon was performed in California, but Mississippi, like 28 other states, has a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

ChathamCzekala-Chatham filed her divorce petition in DeSoto County Chancery Court on Sept. 11. Her lawyer, J. Wesley Hisaw, said a favorable ruling on the petition would not mean that same-sex couples could get married in Mississippi because that's banned under Mississippi statue.

"My client is not looking to start gay marriage in Mississippi. She wants the marriage from another state to be recognized so she can get a divorce and protect herself," Hisaw said.

Czekala-Chatham said in a telephone interview Friday that she has children from a prior relationship and is concerned that Melancon could contest her will and possibly get her kids' inheritance if they don't get divorced.

Czekala-Chatham is seeking the couple's house in Mississippi and alimony. Czekala-Chatham hopes Mississippi will recognize her marriage so she can get divorced even if the case goes all the way to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

"I don't know any other way out of it," she said.

[...]

Matt Steffey, a constitutional law professor at Mississippi College in Clinton, said Czekala-Chatham's case is a longshot.

"There's no right to terminate a gay marriage in Mississippi any more than there is a right to consummate one," Steffey said 

Mississippi is not the only state where the issue of gay divorce is being addressed. Last month, the Texas Supreme Court announced it would consider whether the state has jurisdiction over same-sex divorces. 


Colorado Recognizes First Gay Divorce

6a00d8341c730253ef017ee93b1c86970d-800wiThough gay couples cannot legally be married in Colorado, they can get divorced. On Monday, Juli Yim and Lorelei Jones became the state's first gay couple to get divorced thanks to a recently passed civil unions bill which took effect May 1st. Though the law does not allow marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples in the state, it does recognize gay marriages performed out of state and also has provisions for those unions to be dissolved. According to USA Today,

"Colorado's civil union law...provides legal protections including division of property, financial responsibility between former spouses, parental visitation and child support to splitting couples, provided one involved individual has lived in Colorado for more than 90 days."

Though the couple in question was married in Massachusetts in 2009, Yim has since found a new partner, Suzie Calvin, in Colorado and has resided in the state long enough to be able to legally seek divorce from the state. Yim has stated that she intends to marry Calvin, a friend of hers since high-school, outside of Colorado's borders now that her divorce with Jones has been finalized. Colorado still has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.



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