Pennsylvania Same-Sex Marriage: Gay Spouses Cheer Ability to Divorce

Image: Pennsylvania Same-Sex Marriage: Gay Spouses Cheer Ability to Divorce Gay rights supporters hold a rally on the Pennsylvania State Capital steps after a ruling struck down a ban on same sex marriage in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Thursday, 22 May 2014 12:15 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Same-sex married couples living in Pennsylvania can now divorce there after a federal judge this week overturned the state's ban on gay unions.

Gov. Tom Corbett said this week he wouldn’t contest the judge’s Tuesday ruling, which opened the door for same-sex couples who married in other states but now live in Pennsylvania to file for divorce, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The ruling was great news for Suzanne Rotondo, a 45-year-old who married her partner in Massachusetts 10 years ago. The two moved to Philadelphia and raised their child but decided in 2008 that their relationship wasn't working out. At the time, though, Pennsylvania didn’t recognize their marriage so the state would not offer them the option of a divorce.

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"It feels like my birthday," Rotondo told the Times. "I just feel this excitement. Of course there's no 'Yay, divorce,' but it's a victory for being able to have agency, have a say in your own destiny."

Margaret Klaw, a Pennsylvania family lawyer, said Pennsylvania individuals like Rotondo who have been separated from their spouses for more than two years should be able to divorce in about two months, the Times said.

"It will be interesting to see how many divorces are filed by same-sex couples in Pennsylvania," Klaw said. "I think there’s going be a big rush."

Melissa Pavlack, a family law attorney, told WFMZ that she expects to see a surge in divorces now that the state recognizes same-sex marriage. She said she has even already filed on behalf of one of her clients in a same-sex marriage.

The issue of same-sex divorce is cropping up more often, the Lincoln Journal Star reported, citing cases filed in Nebraska where couples asking to divorce are denied because the state doesn’t recognize their union.

Margie and Bonnie Nichols have petitioned the Nebraska Supreme Court to have the right to get a divorce, the Journal Star said, and state Attorney General Bruning plans to go to court to defend Nebraska’s definition of marriage.

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