A few judges have granted divorces because they oppose their state's gay-marriage ban or do not consider it a roadblock.For most couples, the experience of Allison Flood Lesh and Kristi Lesh is repeated.
Same-sex marriages are not legal in Tennessee, but a gay couple who married out of state now wants a divorce, and the judge's ruling could affect the way other states recognize same-sex marriages.That leaves three choices when wedded bliss reaches an abyss: move to a state where same-sex marriage is legal, most of which have residency requirements for divorce; seek to have the marriage annulled; or begin what can be a protracted court battle.Not wishing to uproot their lives or deny their pasts, most couples opt for the courtroom.Annulment can be messy; it doesn't settle issues such as property division and parental rights.Residency requirements range up to a year in some of the early gay-marriage states, such as Massachusetts, New York and Iowa.Couples stuck in an unhappy marriage face a range of problems.
They may have to file state and federal taxes differently.
Most of the court cases that have cropped up involve lesbian couples, who are twice as likely to be married as gay men."The relationships have ripened enough so that they don't like each other — just like a heterosexual couple," says Lois Liberman, a matrimonial lawyer at Blank Rome.
If they don't like each other in most of the 31 states without same-sex marriage, their options are limited.
Next minute, I'm an adulterer," Flood Lesh, an oil field engineer in San Antonio, quips.
"I can't win either way."At least one state, Wyoming, allows same-sex divorces even though it has not legalized same-sex marriages.
Denial of divorce rights "binds a broken relationship together against the best interest of the state, the taxpayers, the individuals and their children," says Megan Mikolajczyk, the lawyer for Bonnie Nichols.