Alabama Judge Refuses To Grant Lesbian Couple a Divorce Because That Would Acknowledge Their Union, So That Makes Sense
In an strange twist, the state of Alabama has inadvertently supported one couple's same-sex marriage. Sort of. An Alabama judge has denied a lesbian couple's divorce petition. The couple was legally married in Iowa in 2012, and both parties agreed to end the union, but since Alabama law does not recognize their marriage, the judge ruled that Alabama could not grant them a divorce. In other words, she ruled that the gay couple had to stay married.
Of course, this isn't any sort of victory for gay rights. For one thing, having to stay married when you want a divorce sucks, and there's a reason women fought for so long to have the right to divorce their husbands. And for another, the judge's ruling is consistent with Alabama's continued refusal to allow marriage equality. If she'd agreed to grant their divorce, it would have been an implicit acknowledgement of their marriage, which Alabama refuses to do. By throwing out the case she was actually upholding homophobia, even if the upshot is that she was supporting the couple staying married. So from the perspective of gay rights, the whole thing actually does suck.
However, it does highlight just how messy — and fairly ridiculous — the whole situation is becoming in our country. We have reached the point where judges in conservative states are upholding homophobia by ensuring the continuation of same-sex marriage. And where that actually makes sense. And it's probably only going to keep getting weirder as more and more states slowly but surely embrace marriage equality.
Though, I can propose an easy solution: make same-sex marriage legal everywhere.
The couple who filed for divorce in this case, Shrie Michelle Richmond and Kirsten Allysse Richmond, say that they plan to appeal the ruling. The pair got married in Iowa after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the state's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, but Iowa, like most states, requires couples who get divorced in the state to have lived there for at least a year. Since both women are from Alabama originally and have no interest in moving away from their friends and family to live somewhere else for a year, it would be nice if Alabama would just let them split up already. Hopefully the two women will find more luck in the Alabama Civil Court of Appeals, which is where the case is headed next.
Because I'll repeat: as funny as it is that homophobic laws are inadvertently ensuring there is one more married same-sex couple out there, being married when you don't actually want to be still sucks.