Maryland high court takes on lesbian divorce case
The Court of Appeals of Maryland heard arguments on Friday in the case of two women who married in another state but were denied a divorce in Maryland, according to the Associated Press.
Jessica Port and Virginia Anne Cowan were married in California in 2008 and are now seeking a divorce, but the state of Maryland does not currently allow same sex marriages. When they tried to file for a divorce in 2010, Prince George’s County Judge A. Michael Chapdelaine said it “would be contrary to the public policy of Maryland” to grant it.
Some judges in Maryland have granted divorces to same sex couples, while others have not.
“This has been an issue for a lot of people where the laws are unclear,” Port told ABC News. “It depends on which circuit court judge you get.”
Lawyers for the women argued that Maryland grants divorces for couples who married in other states and recognizes same sex marriages performed in other states. Therefore, they argued, married same sex couples should be able to get a divorce as well.
“If you’re validly married somewhere else, the rule in Maryland is your marriage is going to be respected in Maryland, and that’s what we’re asking the court to do here,” said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signed legislation in March that grants same sex couples all the marriage rights currently enjoyed by opposite sex couples. However, the law does not take effect until January 1.
Those who oppose same sex marriage have vowed to collect the 55,736 signatures needed place a repeal of the law on the November ballot.
[Image via Nikolai Alekseev, Creative Commons-licensed]