Maryland - May 18, 2012
A new story recently emerged in the heated debate over gay marriage. Last week, Maryland's highest court held that courts in that state must apply divorce laws equally, and grant a divorce, for gay marriages that were legally formed in another state.
Jessica Port and Virginia Cowan were legally married in California in 2008. Roughly two years later, problems arose among the lesbian couple, prompting them to enter into a separation agreement. Ms. Port then filed a divorce action in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County. However, the circuit court dismissed the case, ruling that same-sex marriage was not legal in Maryland at the time the couple married in California.
Many divorce lawyers have struggled with the issue of whether a divorce can be granted for a same sex couple in a state that does not allow such marriages to be formed in the first instance. What makes this case even more complicated for a Maryland divorce lawyer is the fact that Maryland now recognizes gay marriage, yet the marriage in question was formed before Maryland's new same-sex law passed.
In the Port case, Maryland's highest court of appeals reversed the lower court, and held that a marriage legally entered in one state must be recognized as valid in another state, regardless of the other state's laws. As a result, the case is not only significant for the Maryland divorce lawyer, but is relevant to the practice of all divorce lawyers.