Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I won't say "I told you so."

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island - Gay couples had to struggle mightily to win the right to marry or form civil unions in certain states. Now, some are finding that breaking up is hard to do, too.

In Rhode Island, for example, the state's top court ruled in December that gays married in neighboring Massachusetts — the only state to allow the practice — cannot get divorced because state lawmakers have never defined marriage as anything but a union between a man and woman.

But I thought they wanted to get married because they were going to love each other forever? I guess that doesn't mean what it used to.

In Missouri, a judge is deciding whether a lesbian married in Massachusetts can get an annulment.

OOOOHHHH! OOOOHHHH! I know the answer! NO!

"We all know people who have gone through divorces. At the end of that long and unhappy period, they have been able to breathe a sigh of relief," said Cassandra Ormiston of Rhode Island, who is splitting from her wife, Margaret Chambers. But "I do not see that on my horizon, that sigh of relief that it's over."

That's because people who get divorces are able to m-a-r-r-y in the first place.

Over the past four years, Massachusetts has been the only state where gay marriage is legal, while nine other states allow gay couples to enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships that offer many of the rights and privileges of marriage. The vast majority of these unions require court action to dissolve.

Gay couples who still live in the state where they partnered can split up with little difficulty; the laws in those states include divorce or dissolution procedures for same-sex couples. But gay couples who have moved to another state are running into trouble.

Maybe because the citizens of their adopted states don't want the practice there? Naaaaahhhh. I'm sure that's not it. After all, we want everyone to have the right to do whatever they want to do, right?

Massachusetts, at least early on, let out-of-state gay couples get married there practically for the asking. But the rules governing divorce are stricter. Out-of-state couples could go back to Massachusetts to get divorced, but they would have to live there for a year to establish residency first.

Enjoy the taxes while you're there. Nothing comes without a price.

"I find that an unbelievably unfair burden. I own a home here, my friends are here, my life is here," said Rhode Island-based Ormiston, who is resigned to moving across the state border to Massachusetts for a year.

Boo-flipping-who. Cry me a river. You don't get to bring your lifestyle and force it on anyone else's legal system, just because you chose to avail yourself of a dubious legal benefit offered in another state.

It is not clear how many gay couples have sought a divorce.

But I bet its enough to sap some of the sparkle from Neal and Bob's eyes...

Getting divorced gets tough
In Massachusetts, where more than 10,000 same-sex couples have married since 2004, the courts do not keep a breakdown of gay and heterosexual divorces. But Joyce Kauffman, a member of the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association, said probably more than 100 gay divorces have been granted in Massachusetts, and possibly many more.

She's a member of that bar association and she doesn't know? I really don't believe that.

She said she suspects the divorce rate among gays is lower than that among heterosexual couples, because many of the same-sex couples who got married in Massachusetts had probably been together for years.

Unsupported self-serving supposition? From the pink swastika crowd? My, my. Hell must be frezzing over as we speak...

Vermont has dissolved 2 percent of the 8,666 civil unions performed there since they became legal in 2000. Those numbers do not include couples who split up in another state.

And since there apparently is no data tracking how many of them remained, the statistic is only slightly biased in the way that it is the same way a cheerleader can be slightly pregnant.

Chambers and Ormiston wed in Massachusetts in 2004 and filed for divorce in 2006. But the Rhode Island Supreme Court last winter refused to recognize their marriage. That means at least 90 other gay couples from the state who got married in Massachusetts would not be able to divorce in Rhode Island if they wanted to.

Good on the Rhode Island Supreme Court. If their judical system is as taxed as others around the country, they have more than enough LEGITIMATE cases to handle anyway.

Getting a divorce could prove toughest in some of the 40 states that have explicitly banned or limited same-sex unions, lawyers say.

Only if Judges choose to enforce existing law rather than make it up out of whole cloth, and we know how judges avoid the opportunity to legislate from the bench.

In Missouri, which banned gay marriage in 2001, a conservative lawmaker has urged a judge not to grant an annulment to a lesbian married in Massachusetts.

And rightly so, you nattering excuse for a journalist.

'A novel concept'
Oregon started allowing gay couples to form domestic partnerships this year. But to prevent problems similar to those in Massachusetts, lawmakers added a provision that allows couples to dissolve their partnerships in Oregon even if they have moved out of state.

Wow. Judges must be thrilled at the concept. I, however, am troubled by it.

The measure is modeled on California's domestic partnership system and represents a major change in the usual rules governing jurisdiction.

Change? That's polite. How about "complete departure" from the usual rules governing jurisdiction. Civil procedure sucked as it was in law school. Now we just opened up a whole set of exceptions. Forget blackhole jurisdiction, now we have gay jurisdiction. Faaaaaaaaabbbuuulous, honey!

"It's a novel concept in the family law area," said Oregon lawyer Beth Allen, who works with Basic Rights Oregon, a gay rights group.


Same-sex couples can form civil unions in Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey and New Hampshire. They can enter into domestic partnerships or receive similar benefits in California, Oregon, Maine, Washington, Hawaii and the District of Columbia.

Even though the voters of Washington made it clear that they did not want it. Thank Washington legislature, and Queen Christine. May your unmittigated arrogance bite you in the ass.

New York does not permit gay marriage, but a judge there has allowed a lesbian married in Canada to seek a divorce. In 2005, Iowa's Supreme Court upheld the breakup of a lesbian couple who entered into a civil union in Vermont.

Your Honor, I'd like you to meet my wife, Sparky. Sparky is a border collie. She's been a little bitchy lately, and I want a divorce. Can you help me with that?

Some Rhode Island lawmakers are pushing to legalize gay divorce. But Gov. Don Carcieri, a Republican who opposes gay marriage, is against the idea. So are church leaders in the heavily Roman Catholic state.

No mention of religion other than as the evil buzz-killing moral authority determined to stop the slide down the slippery slope. So much for fair and balanced.

"Whatever name they want to give to it, it is a recognition of same-sex unions," said the Rev. Bernard Healey, a lobbyist for Catholic Diocese of Providence.

Dingdingdinging! Correct in one! Bob, tell the Reverend what he's won! Well, Wink, the good Rev has gotten an all-expenses paid trip to be pilloried in the public square for expressing an opinion consistent with centuries of his churches' teaching. That's right, you refusal to "change with the times", a/k/a "let people do whatever the hell they want" gets you free derision and scorn. Congratulations!