On Tuesday, Judge Joseph O’Reilly made history by granting the first same-sex divorce in the state of Kentucky to a couple who married in Massachusetts. Kentucky law forbids gay marriage and does not recognize gay marriage performed in states where it is legal.
In his opinion, Judge O’Reilly said that denying Alysha Romero and Rebecca Sue Romero their divorce would be in violation of the Kentucky Constitution, according to the Kentucky.com. Judge O’Reilly wrote in his opinion, “The Bill of Rights of the Kentucky Constitution recognizes and provides that all persons are equal. That includes same-sex couples.” Judge O’Reilly added, “To permit legally married heterosexual couples to dissolve their marriages and deny legally married same-sex couples the right to dissolve their marriages constitutes the grant of separate privileges to legally married heterosexual couples in violation of the Bill of Rights of the Kentucky Constitution.”
He also noted in his opinion that Kentucky divorce law which should be “liberally construed” and should encourage “amicable settlements,” USA Today.
So far, lawmakers in Kentucky have not challenged Judge O’Reilly’s decision.
Divorce is especially challenging for gay couples when they live in states that don’t recognize their marriage. In order to make the split from their spouse legal, they often have to return to the state where they married and establish residency. That often means moving and living in that state anywhere from several weeks to several months. Heterosexual couples don’t face the same challenges and can easily get a divorce no matter what state they live in or where they were initially married.
Divorce plays an important role in fight for gay marriage since much of the headway made with the issue has been done through divorce court. Florida, for instance, only recently began granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Same-sex marriage became possible in Florida because of a divorce case.
That case also involved a lesbian couple who tied the knot on Vermont but couldn’t get a divorce in that state. Eventually, after a nearly two year court battle a Florida judge granted the divorce stating that denying the couple a divorce violated their right to equal protection under the constitution. So, the right to end a marriage is paving the way for gay marriage in states where it is banned.
Divorce, no matter your sexual preference is difficult on so many levels. As far as the emotions go, each party has to find their own way to deal that aspect. But when a couple, same-sex or hetero, needs help with the pragmatic aspects of divorce like asset division and child custody, they can turn to a divorce attorney to handle the more complicated issues. Your legal counsel can take some but not all of the pain out of the divorce process.