Marriage Really Is for Life (If You're Gay)
Today the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled that just because you get married in Massachusetts doesn't mean you can get divorced anywhere else. Oops! But why is this maybe, just maybe, a good thing? We asked a lawyer , and then synthesized his 15 minute lecture after the jump
You see, each state recognizes the (heterosexual) marriages and divorces granted by the other states (as well as certain other things) because of Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution, a.k.a, the Full Faith and Credit Clause. However, Slick Willie's Defense of Marriage Act allows states to actively not recognize -- and bars the federal government from recognizing -- same sex marriages. According to our lawyer friend, that great liberal legal scholar Justice Antonin "Masturbation Hurts the Baby Jesus" Scalia has suggested that litigation on this point (perhaps by a same sex couple married in one state unable to get divorced in another) would be the exact way that states would be forced to recognize same sex marriages and the DOMA would be ruled unconstitutional.
The great state of Rhode Island hasn't yet seen fit to pass a law recognizing -- or affirmatively not recognizing -- same sex marriage and so their Supreme Court today ruled that, in the absence of recognition of the marriage, the state can't possibly grant the couple a divorce. Notably, every state requires that at least one spouse live in the state where they are filing for divorce, so it's not like the pair can just head back over to Massachusetts to get a divorce. So, basically, they can either litigate the legality of their divorce up to the Supreme Court (average wait time: years on end) or dick around with their residency, depending on how much they currently hate each other.
But, we're sure that Scalia's legal opinion (and opining) on the constitutionality of DOMA probably has absolutely nothing to do with all those conservatives pushing to get a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage. Nope. Definitely not.
Alert: R.I. Supreme Court says no to same-sex divorce [The Providence Journal]
Same Sex Marriage, Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships [National Conference of State Legislatures]