US: Pennsylvania lawmaker attempts to legalise same-sex divorce

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A Pennsylvania lawmaker is attempting to legalise same-sex divorce, despite the state not recognising equal marriage.

Mike Schlossberg submitted legislation to Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives today which would allow same-sex couples ‘trapped’ in same-sex marriages from other states to get divorced in Pennsylvania.

15 of the 17 states that recognise same-sex marriages will not allow non-residents to divorce there, with the remaining two, Vermont and Delaware,only providing divorces to non-residents who married there.

This means that same-sex couples who marry and then move to a state which does not recognise same-sex marriage can become legally ‘trapped’, federally recognised as married, but with no state willing to divorce them.

According to the Express-Times, Pennyslvania-based Robin Townsend married her now-estranged wife in 2008 in Massachusetts, but the couple have been unable to be granted a divorce in either state.

Townsend said: “I didn’t read the fine print. I didn’t consider the what-ifs: What if something happened and I needed to get a divorce?”

“We’re not living in an equal state in Pennsylvania; we’re not all treated equally, So if they’re not going to give us full equality, I hope they at least give us some things, including the ability to divorce.”

Schlossberg told the newspaper: “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.

“It really is a travesty of justice.”

Two other states, Colorado and Wyoming, already recognise same-sex divorce without recognising same-sex marriage.

A Florida-based couple who married in Massachusetts encountered the same problem last month.