Clement Law Center - Federal Way Family Law Attorney
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How will the repeal of DOMA affect same-sex couples and divorce?

Residents in Washington are no strangers to the civil rights battle currently swirling around same-sex couples. Only just recently allowed to marry here in Washington, same-sex couples have fought years of prejudice to be able to marry their significant other. But now it appears that they are fighting a new battle: the right to divorce.

To some this may seem like a conflict of interest. After fighting so long for the right to wed, why are so many people now fighting for the right to divorce? It all boils down to the marriage rights; what heterosexual couples are allowed to do, so too should gay couples. And it’s not as farfetched of an idea as some may think.

Take the case of a lesbian couple in Maryland. Though their marriage was recognized in California, their residency in Maryland, where gay marriage is not recognized, posed a problem when the couple decided to split. Because of the difference in state laws, Maryland courts refused their request for a divorce. And as one lawyer for the LGBT community puts it, this is a kink in the legal system the repeal of DOMA may fix.

At present time, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are hearing two landmark cases that could change the face of gay marriage in the United States. With the unconstitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act pushing it closer to repeal, many experts say that federal recognition of marriage could mean a federal recognition of divorce as well.

Though many states may continue to have a patchwork of differing laws, the repeal of DOMA could allow same-sex couples who get married in one state to get divorced in another without fear that the courts will deny their request. It could also mean that society is getting one step closer towards true marriage equality.

Source: Here & Now, “Same-Sex Couples Battle For Divorce Equality,” March 22, 2013

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