As I wrote in a previous post, a Florida Circuit Court judge in Monroe County (in the Florida Keys) declared that Florida’s ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional. Though that ruling was stayed (not put into effect) pending appeal, a Miami-Dade judge made a similar ruling this past week, which was also stayed.
A few days before the Miami ruling came out, I was interviewed by Elaine Silvestrini of the Tampa Tribune about my Tampa same sex divorce case now under appeal in the Second District Court of Appeals and how the Florida Keys ruling may or may not affect the divorce case. Below are some excerpts of the Tampa Tribune article:
Although the decision [to permit same sex marriages] has no force of law in the rest of the state, lawyers [in the same sex divorce case] say it may help their case for divorce equality.
“It’s not authoritative, but it provides a little bit more persuasion,” said Adam Cordover, who represents [one of the divorcing spouses]. “It shows that yet another court has ruled in favor of marriage equality. The currents of history are in favor of marriage and divorce equality.”
Cordover said the Monroe County ruling went further than the [parties] need the courts to go. “We believe, first off, that the court doesn’t even need to recognize the marriage in order to grant the divorce in our case. It simply needs to recognize that others do recognize the marriage.”
Cordover said the [parties] simply want to be legally declared as single.
The Monroe County judge “said that marriage is a fundamental right whether between one man and one woman or between two people of the same sex,” Cordover said. “We’re arguing the other side of the coin. Divorce is a fundamental right, whether it’s between one man and one woman or two people of the same sex.”
The [parties] lived in Massachusetts when they wed in 2010. They moved to Tampa in 2011. Although their marriage isn’t recognized by Florida, it is recognized by the federal government and in 19 states.
Without a divorce, the women are required to file their federal tax returns as married people. And if either one wants to remarry — even to a man — she could be prosecuted as a bigamist if she were to move to a state where their same-sex marriage is recognized. And if one of the women were traveling and became incapacitated while in a state where the marriage is recognized, then the other woman could legally make decisions for her even though the relationship is over.
“It’s been said that they’re wedlocked,” Cordover said. “They’re stuck together.”
The women agreed to a “collaborative divorce,” a process in which both sides hire lawyers, but agree to settle all issues outside of court. That means they didn’t need a judge to divide their assets or establish alimony. They asked only for a legal declaration that their marriage was over.
“They just want to be divorced,” Cordover said.