State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

From House Democrat, a call for "divorce equality"

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Apr 15, 2014 5:01 PM

It turns out that legally ending a same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania is just as impossible as legally entering one.

In a co-sponsorship memo floated last week, Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh) said he plans to fix what he called "the marriage trap" - a limbo land reserved for same-sex couples who, after marrying in one of the 17 states (or the District of Columbia), move to Pennsylvania, decide to split up, but can't get a divorce.

When it comes to equality, advocates say, divorce is almost as central as marriage -- and it's unattainable for same-sex couples who don't first move back to the states where they were married.

"In order for someone to obtain the legal and the financial and the emotional closure that they are seeking and clearly they deserve when a marriage ends, they have to pick up and move their entire life," said Schlossberg. According to The Morning Call, four states waive residency requirements for the sake of divorce.

Ted Martin, director of LGBT advocacy group EqualityPA, calls the problem "a weird quirk of the law."

"Our stance is, if you want to make this a non-issue, grant marriage equality," Martin said. "That's a serious issue. This is just a part of it."

Schlossberg said his proposal is meant to start a conversation, not to spur any immediate impact.

"I have a very difficult time imagining it does stand a chance in the near future," he said.

Pennsylvania could conceivably recognize same-sex divorces without legalizing the marriages - a judge in Wyoming ruled that granting such a divorce does not make the marriage legal.

Gov. Corbett does not support same-sex marriage. A spokesman said he won't comment on the measure until it's introduced in the House.

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Comments: 2

  • Keith Pullman img 2014-04-16 21:53

    The right to divorce is part of the right to marry. There is no good reason to deny we must keep evolving until an adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, monogamy, or polyamory is free to share love, sex, residence, and marriage (or any of those without the others) with any & all consenting adults, without prosecution, bullying, or discrimination. The limited same-gender freedom to marry is a great step, but it is not full marriage equality. Stand up for every adult's right to marry any consenting adult(s). Get on the right side of history!

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