US: Florida lesbian couple challenge for right to divorce

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A lesbian couple are attempting to be granted a divorce in Florida, despite the state not recognising same-sex marriage.

Mariama Changamire Shaw and Keiba Lynn Shaw, who married in Massachusetts, were hoping to be granted a divorce in a court in their home state of Florida today, but will face a legal hurdle as Florida does not recognise they are married.

Judge Laurel M. Lee asked: “How would this court have the authority to dissolve a marriage that the laws of our state do not recognize?”

Although they married in Massachusetts, the state’s divorce law does not apply to couples who do not live there, meaning they would have to live in Massachusetts for 12 months before being able to divorce in it.

Attorneys representing the two women are contending that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage does not extend to same-sex divorce, and the unprecedented hearing could leave the couple stuck married.

Ellen Ware, an attorney for Mariama Changamire Shaw, told WTSP: “They come to Florida and they’re stuck. They are married permanently until they move away, unless the court decides to interpret the law as we have suggested.”

“The judge clearly has indicated that she is going to give some very thoughtful analysis to this and I know I speak for all of the attorneys and the parties involved, that we appreciate that.”

Adam Cordover, representing Keiba Lynn Shaw, said: “They’re at a point right now where they cannot get divorced, which means that they cannot re-marry… so I’m not sure what you call it, but it’s a difficult, difficult situation.”

The case is adjourned until April 22, when the attorneys will present their arguments for the right to divorce.

Earlier this month, Zach Galifinakis joked in an interview with Barack Obama that he would ‘make same-sex divorce illegal, then see how bad they want it.”

Obama had quipped in reply: “I think that’s why you’re not president, and that’s a good thing.”