A lesbian couple who was the first same-sex couple to marry in the United States has filed for divorce.
Hillary and Julie Goodridge, 52 and 51 respectively, who led the fight to legalize gay marriage in Massachusetts filed for divorce last week in Suffolk Probate and Family Court after announcing their separation in 2006.
The Goodridges were among seven gay couples who filed a lawsuit in 2001 challenging the state's gay marriage ban. The case led to a state Supreme Judicial Court ruling that made Massachusetts the first state to recognize same-sex marriage.
The lesbian couple wed on the first day same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, May 17, 2004.
Arline Isaacson, of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, said that the Goodridges are a couple like any other.
"Gay folks love like straight folks. We get married like they do and unfortunately, we will be getting divorces like they do, and we really are no different," she said, according to TheBostonChannel.com.
Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, a Judeo-Christian-based public policy group that fought to repeal gay marriage, had another take on the divorce.
"Divorce is a very painful issue, but I also can't help but reflect on the pain this couple has caused on the commonwealth and the nation to redefine marriage. And now they're getting divorced? It doesn't make a lot of sense," Mineau told the Boston Herald.
"Obviously, they don't hold the institution in very high esteem."
The former couple shares custody of their 12-year-old daughter, Annie.
Meanwhile, a custody battle between a lesbian couple that called it quits over their Vermont civil union is becoming the latest example on how laws on same-sex unions in one state can affect families in other states.
After Lisa Miller split from her civil union with Janet Jenkins, her former partner sought full custody of Isabella, Miller's biological daughter.
Vermont courts have ruled that Jenkins has parental rights because she was joined in a civil union with the girl’s mother at the time she was impregnated through artificial insemination. Appellate courts in Virginia, where Isabella was born, directed Virginia to fully recognize the Vermont orders giving Jenkins, who resides in Vermont, liberal unsupervised visitation.
Miller left the homosexual lifestyle and became an evangelical Christian when Isabella was 17 months old. Her daughter is now six years old.
At a hearing in late January, a Vermont judge allowed Miller to retain custody, but ordered unsupervised visitation for four days in March, over the Memorial Day holiday and for five weeks in the summer.
Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal firm, which represents Miller, says Virginia courts ignored the state's Marriage Amendment and marriage laws, declaring all rights arising from same-sex relationships void and unenforceable, by upholding the Vermont ruling.
The Fla.-based legal group says it will continue to pursue legal action in Virginia for Miller and Isabella but stresses the need for the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which President Barack Obama wants to repeal.
The Defense of Marriage Act, enacted under the Clinton administration, defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman for purposes of all federal laws, and provides that states need not recognize same-sex marriages from another state.
"If Vermont can declare from the bench that a legal stranger is a mommy to another woman's child and then have it enforced in a state with one of the strongest marriage amendments in the nation, then, on the issues of marriage and family, our country will no longer be the United States of America but instead will be the United States according to Massachusetts, California, or Vermont," Liberty Counsel stated.