Saturday, May 26, 2012

Move over gay marriage, the newest controversy involves gay divorce

Posted on: May 25, 2012

Gay marriage is without a doubt a heated topic of conversation across the country these days. Between the recent remarks by President Obama and the decision by the voters of North Carolina, the controversial issue has been plastered across the front page for weeks now. It’s surprising then that the current controversy in Ohio’s legal community involves the prospect of gay divorce.

Like any other relationships, gay marriages can sometimes sour. Although gay marriage is not recognized in the vast majority of states, courts across the country are finding themselves forced to grapple with what to do when a legally married gay couple no longer wants to remain together. The issue presented itself very recently in Ohio when one judge decided to allow gay divorce in a state that doesn’t recognize gay marriage.

The two men, Jonathan Baize and Stephen Wissman, both from Columbus, Ohio, were granted a divorce in mid-March by a judge in the Franklin County Domestic Relations Court. Though gay divorce carries important, perhaps landmark, implications for the state one attorney who was present at the hearing described the proceeding as utterly “unremarkable.” No histrionics, just paperwork.

The men were married not long ago, on September 1, 2011, at a small ceremony in New York. They then returned home to Ohio to resume their life but soon decided that their marriage was not meant to last, a decision that might have important implications for Ohio law. In 2004, voters in the state approved a constitutional amendment that prohibited gay marriage. Backers of the 2004 amendment have argued that by authorizing a gay divorce, the Franklin County judge tacitly acknowledged the validity of the gay marriage.

Supporters of the judge turn to the language of the amendment and point out that current state law refers only to homosexual marriage and is silent with regard to same-sex divorce. The family court judge obviously agreed that the letter of the law did not prohibit his decision and thus decided to dissolve the men’s relationship.

While this instance of gay divorce may be among the first of its kind, it certainly won’t be the last time Ohio courts are forced to confront the issue. Legal questions surrounding the status of same-sex couples abound and will only grow more complicated as the gap between states that have approved gay marriage and those that have outlawed it continues to grow.

If you find yourself facing the prospect of divorce, it’s best to contact an experienced Ohio family law attorney who can help guide you through the difficult process. Count on the expertise of Twinsburg family law attorney Carol L. Gasper.

Source:Married in New York, gay couple gets divorced in Columbus,” by Alan Johnson, published at

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