As of today, in the United States, same sex couples can tie the knot in six different places. The marriages can take place in seven states and the District of Columbia.
In those states and in D.C., you do not have to live there to get married. Same sex couples can visit any of those locations and get married.
However, it appears that in some of the states that do not allow same sex marriage, those couples cannot get divorced either. This is a sticky situation as if a state does not recognize your union as legal, can it really allow a divorce to legally end the union?
In an unfortunate twist of events, some states that do not permit their residents the right to marry are extending to those same residents legal circumstances that heterosexual couples never have to deal with.
So are you married or not?
Yes and no. While the state might not recognize the partnership, if any children are involved then other issues arise. There are still obligations involved. If a same sex relationship breaks down, neither partner can simply walk away if the two are married. There still must be some sort of legal separation.
There are various financial benefits married couples receive from the government. If you cannot get divorced, you will continue to be linked to your partner. All of this effects insurance policies and what assets you truly hold.
But it is a fair problem. How can a state that doesn’t recognize something permit the legal dissolving of that thing? In essence, if a state were to allow a same sex marriage divorce, it would in a backhanded way be recognizing same sex marriage.
Is it legal?
It can be debated whether it is legal or constitutional to not allow citizens the right to exit a marriage. A religious extremist might find this to be the only time they want to play the “Jesus says no to divorce” card, but that would be hypocrisy. That could open the gate to a movement to ban divorce.
So is there a good reason? It can be argued that nothing is stopping these couples from taking residency in a state that would allow such a divorce and file for it there. But how fair is that? If you want to get divorced, you must move for a specific period of time and change everything about your life. Not the best deal.
With all of the financial, tax, and other issues that would continue to link two partners together, can anyone say it is fair to withhold divorce from a couple in a country with a divorce rate of over 50%?
A resolution that is easier on everyone is needed. While many states might not like the idea of it, a federal law on marriage is likely the only thing that can set order to things.
Each state likes to pick its own laws. But if we had a federal law on who can get married and who can get divorced, we would avoid all of these problems in the long run. If there was one law dictating the rules of marriage, it won’t matter if you got married in California and wanted to get divorced in Texas.
Equality is something we all strive for in the United States. From the American Revolution to the end of slavery to the Civil Rights Movement to the current movement to extend marriage to same sex couples, the United States is constantly moving towards equality among all men and women.
In a world progressing towards the future, there is no reason same sex couples should be denied the right to marry and in turn the right to divorce.