DC Bill Could Help Married Gays Get Divorced

A new bill that is being considered in Washington, D.C., could make it easier for some same-sex couples that marry in the U.S. capitol to get divorced.

The “Civil Marriage Dissolution Equality Amendment Act of 2011,” which was proposed by D.C. council member Phil Mendelson, would make it easier for same-sex couples that are married in Washington to dissolve their marriages if they currently live in a state that wouldn't otherwise recognize their divorce.

Current law states that at least one of the married individuals must be a resident of the District of Columbia for at least six months prior to beginning the divorce process there. If passed, the new bill would eliminate that required six-month period only for same-sex couples who live in jurisdictions that do not recognize same-sex unions.

The capitol's Committee on the Judiciary unanimously decided to send the bill to the full council in a vote on Tuesday, The Associated Press reports.

Bishop Harry Jackson, leader of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, M.D., appealed the passing of the capitol city's same-sex marriage law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, when the high court declined to hear his appeal. He says he doesn't like the new bill because it appears to give same-sex couples additional rights.

“I think that to have special rules for gay marriage seems to be a little bit over the top. Because what it does, as far as I'm concerned, is it strikes at the very equality argument that is so often used,” Jackson told CP on Wednesday.

He says that “major social change” is occurring under the influence of “folks who in large numbers ... don't really want to enter into this institution with the same kind of permanency of ... heterosexuals in a similar situation.”

He also says that allowing easier divorces could result in the revelation that some same-sex marriages were motivated mostly by political desires.

“This may go to show that some of the marriages were just for political reasons and for the cause of forcing a symbolic sense of equality, not a needed transition of change,” he said.

Tom Feeney, spokesperson for the D.C. Courts, told The Christian Post on Monday that the courts don't keep separate statistics for the number of same-sex marriages and number of traditional marriages, but the increase in the overall number of marriage license applications could provide a rough idea as to the number of same-sex marriages that have occurred there.

From March 3, 2009 to March 2, 2010 the D.C. Courts received over 3,000 marriage applications. From March 3, 2010 to March 2, 2011 – the first year of legalized same-sex marriage in the district – that number jumped to over 6,500 applications.

Although he couldn't prevent the legalization of gay marriage in D.C., Jackson says he is focusing on what could prove to be the issue's next major battleground state: Maryland.

In July 2011, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley said he would intensify his efforts to legalize same-sex marriage when the Maryland General Assembly's legislative session began in 2012, reported. That legislative session began on Wednesday.

Jackson says he is working with the Maryland Marriage Alliance, a group dedicated to keeping the traditional definition of marriage and whose slogan is “One Man, One Woman,” in order to defend marriage in the state.

Derek McCoy, the leader of MMA, recently told The Christian Post just how important churches will be in the battle against same-sex marriage and for religious freedom in Maryland.

“I don’t think that the average Christian really understands what’s going on today,” he said. “That’s why the pastors are so critical and [that is] the reason we spend so much time working with them because the sleeping giant is the Church.”

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