Last year, Minnesota became the 13th state in the nation to allow same-sex couples to legally marry, and marry they did. Scores of couples lined up to be married just after midnight when the law went into effect on August 1st, and state officials have issued nearly 4,000 marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples in the months since.
With the new law now just past its one-year mark, many of the same-sex couples who have married in Minnesota are nearing their first anniversaries. And, inevitably, some are contemplating divorce.
Understandably, divorce is an issue that is frequently overlooked in celebratory conversations about same-sex marriage, but it is nevertheless an important issue. In the quickly changing legal landscape of gay marriage in the United States, the right to divorce is not something that can be taken for granted.
As a result, some gay and lesbian couples have found themselves literally “wedlocked”, meaning that they are legally married without access to divorce. This can occur when a couple marries in a state where same-sex marriage is legal but then relocates to another state where it is not.
Because some states that do not recognize gay marriage also refuse to grant divorces to same-sex couples, these couples can find themselves in a bind when their marriages don’t work out. Further complicating matters is the fact that many states have minimum residency requirements for couples before they can be granted a divorce. Thus, traveling out of state for a “destination divorce” is no simple matter. Fortunately, for residents of Minnesota, this is no longer an issue — last year’s same-sex marriage law also provides couples with the corresponding right to divorce.
Source: The Associated Press, “Minnesota gay marriage law reaches anniversary though political debate still smolders” Aug. 1, 2014