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Divorce Equality May Come to the Keystone State

Friday Apr 11, 2014
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Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D-Allentown)
Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D-Allentown)  

In a post-DOMA world, you might think that with marriage equality come divorce equality -- not necessarily so.

A Pennsylvania lawmaker has proposed legislation to allow same-sex couples residing in the Keystone state who were legally married in other states to untie the knot at home.

Although its ban on same-sex marriage is currently facing challenges in state and federal courts, gay couples cannot legally marry within Pennsylvania’s borders. Although same-sex couples who were wed in states where gay marriage is legal have federal recognition of their unions thanks to the recent Supreme Court decision to dismantle part of the Defense of Marriage Act, marriage and divorce remain administered on a state level.

Since same-sex marriage is illegal in Pennsylvania, couples who marry elsewhere must return to the state where were married to get a divorce. Most of those states require residency for as long as a year by one of the married partners to get a divorce.

"A divorce is an emotionally and financially draining situation as it is, so imagine if you were trapped in a marriage and couldn’t legally get out of it and were being denied that legal and emotional closure," Said Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D-Allentown) who is proposing the bill. "It really is a travesty of justice."

According to Lehigh Valley Live, of the 17 states where gay marriage is legal, only Delaware and Vermont permit couples to divorce without residency, but only if they were married there in the first place. Colorado and Wyoming allow same-sex divorces even though marriages there are not legal.

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