Attorney: Gay R.I. Couple Cannot 'Divorce' Since 'Marriage' Unrecognized

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By Doug Huntington, Christian Post Reporter
August 3, 2007|9:21 am

Christian and pro-family groups have shown concern over a case involving a same-sex couple in Rhode Island who are seeking a “divorce.”

The Supreme Court in the state, which has not recognized homosexual “marriages,” must now decide whether they can allow the “divorce” without claiming that it does indeed recognize out-of-state “marriages.”

Several groups have submitted court briefs to stake their claims on the issue.

“Marriage has always been one man and one woman in Rhode Island. Everything else is counterfeit,” explained Austin Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), in a statement. ADF submitted a friend-of-the-court brief Wednesday.

“Rhode Island should not allow same-sex ‘divorce’ to become a back-door entrance to the recognition of same-sex ‘marriage,’” Nimocks added.

In 2004, Margaret R. Chambers and Cassandra B. Ormiston were “married” in Massachusetts – currently the only state to have legalized same-sex “marriages.”

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They have since returned to their home in Rhode Island, but applied for a “divorce” last year in Providence citing “irreconcilable differences.”

The case went to Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah Jr., the chief family court judge, who explained that he could not make a ruling on the incident without bringing up the marriage issue. He then approached the Supreme Court as to whether he had the authority to hear the case.

The state of Rhode Island has not yet passed a law specifically banning same-sex “marriages” in the state and also has not given recognition to out-of-state matrimonies.

Opponents to homosexual “marriages” are worried that the ruling will set a precedent and that the courts cannot refuse marriage certificates in the future from gay couples or that the state will have to recognize those “marriages” performed in a different state.

Both Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri and Attorney General Patrick Lynch filed legal briefs to the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The two agree that the couple should be able to receive a “divorce” since the two issues can be considered separately.

The governor and attorney general disagree on the “marriage” issue, however. Carcieri argues that marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman while Lynch argues that those “marriages” performed in Massachusetts should be recognized.

"Marriage as a legal union of one man and one woman is clearly the bedrock of Rhode Island family law," wrote Carcieri in his brief to the court. "Because of the pervasiveness of this position throughout its family law statutes, Rhode Island has a strong public policy against recognition of any other marriage than that between one man and one woman."

Pro-family and Christian groups still feel that the courts should not walk that obscure line defining “divorce” until Rhode Island has adopted a solidified position on the issue.

“If the Supreme Court of Rhode Island grants a ‘divorce’ to these two women, the ruling would radically redefine marriage in Rhode Island without legislative or voter input,” added Nimocks. “Rhode Island’s public policy on marriage is clear and same-sex ‘marriage’ isn’t a part of it.”

 

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