Require States to Grant Same-Sex Couples Right to Divorce

Target: U.S. Congress

Goal: Make it possible for same-sex couples to be granted a divorce in states that do not recognize their marriage as legal.

Maryland is the first state to grant same-sex couples a divorce even though it does not regard gay marriage legal and valid. Because of this recent decision, same-sex couples in Maryland are no longer trapped in unhappy marriages and are finally able to re-marry if they wish to and settle financial and custodial issues with their ex-partners.

The other 44 states that do not recognize gay marriage have not allowed same-sex couples these same rights, however. Same-sex couples who are residents of states where gay marriage is still illegal and therefore got married in states that do allow gay-marriage, are often unable to get an official divorce. States refuse to decide over a marriage that they did not recognize in the first place and leave same-sex couples “wed-locked.” They are also not able to get a divorce in the state where they got married. California, for example, requires people to live in the state for 6 months up to 2 years to be considered residents and be granted the same divorce rights.

A June 7 article published on by Elizabeth Landau explains why it is so important that same-sex couples are granted the right to get an official divorce, regardless of whether the state recognizes gay marriage. Besides the emotional consequences of still being legally tied to one’s ex-partner, people are also denied the opportunity to remarry or get a civil union. It becomes very difficult to divide up assets and if one of the partners has a child with another person, his/her ex-partner is still legally considered a parent.

A break-up without an official divorce leaves people with severe emotional, financial, and legal challenges. Help urge Congress to require states to grant same-sex couples a divorce, even if they do not recognize gay marriage as legal and valid.


Dear Member of Congress,

The law around same-sex marriage is still evolving and one of the hurdles we need to overcome is the problem that arises when same-sex couples want to file for divorce in a state that did not recognize their marriage in the first place.

By not granting same-sex couples a divorce, we are denying them the opportunity to enter into a new marriage or civil union. Without an official divorce, dividing up assets becomes a very difficult legal challenge. And if one of the partners becomes a parent after the break-up, the ex-partner may still be legally considered a parent as well. A simple break-up thus doesn’t severe ties. Both people will continue to be tied together financially and legally.

I urge you to take the initiative to make divorce possible for same-sex couples. Maryland has now recognized the legal and emotional importance of granting same-sex couples an official divorce, and I hope that this state’s decision will inspire you to grant this right to all same-sex couples.


[Your Name Here]

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