In an unprecedented turn of events a same-sex couple living in Louisville was granted divorce by the judge even though the state does not recognize same sex marriage.
Same-sex marriage is not recognized in Ky.
The law in Kentucky considers same-sex marriages performed outside the state as void within the state. As a result, violation of any rights from marriage or its termination cannot be challenged in a Kentucky court of law. However, the ruling handed out by the Kentucky judge Joseph O’Reilly said that denying same-sex couples a divorce would violate the protection that is inherent in the Constitution.
But what about state’s rights and the will of the people that pay taxes and live in Kentucky? How come that couple just cannot return to the state that married them and divorce there? That is what discerning people want to know.
“All persons are equal” says judge quoting the Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights clearly states that all persons are equal says O’Reilly, the Jefferson County Family Court Judge, and that does not preclude same-sex couples. There are also all sorts of laws that says judges are not more important than governors and cannot act like they are dictators.
To have one set of rules and privileges for heterosexual couples and another for same-sex couples in matters of marriage and divorce would be in ‘violation of the Bill of Rights and of the Kentucky Constitution’. The divorce attorneys overseeing the respective cases said they believed that Judge O’Reilly’s ruling was the first of its kind in the state. They said that their clients were happy with the outcome―of course they were―that means very little.
Louis Waterman, divorce attorney representing Alysha Romero, said that the Romero ruling will not be appealed by the Romeros’ as a divorce was what they were seeking and that is what the ruling granted to them. The ruling given by the retiring judge is likely to be cited by other judges facing similar lawsuits across Kentucky although they would not be bound by law to abide by it.Is that what this judge just did? Some people are believing something is not right here.
One of the partners of the divorcing couple, Alysha Romero, works as an administrative assistant in the Radiology Department of the University of Louisville, while Rebecca Romero is a student who suffered an injury while in the military. Many females are hurt while being active duty in the military but Rebecca is now happy since she can move on with her life.
The difficulties in getting a divorce after relocation to a new state
In the absence of this ruling the couple would have had to uproot themselves and move back to Massachusetts where they were legally wed, just to seek a divorce. The judge in his ruling considered their situation and said that forcing them to move back to Massachusetts under the circumstances would ‘constitute an arbitrary exercise of power prohibited by the Kentucky Constitution’. But people return to previous states for legal reasons all of the time according to legal professionals.
This ruling has been considered as historic by many including Chris Hartman, director of a Louisville gay-advocacy group. Kent Ostrander, executive director of Lexington based Family Foundation finds it strange that in a state that bans gay marriages, how a judge could both recognize and dissolve a marriage.
The ruling from O’Reilly came at a time when the Supreme Court was deliberating whether or not to hear such cases from Kentucky and three more states, based on a federal court ruling that upheld the ban on gay marriages in the very same states. Waterman says that ultimately the laws will view both heterosexual and same-sex marriages in the same way.