Whoops! Judge mistakenly grants first divorce to same-sex couple

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A judge has mistakenly granted his state’s first same-sex divorce to a lesbian couple – because he didn’t realise they were both women.

Ohio Judge George McCarthy heard a divorce plea from a couple on November 24 in Athens County – where same-sex marriage remains banned

He signed the order allowing Erin O’Leary and Brneda Mohney to divorce, and only realised the next day that they were both women.

The women – who married in California in 2007 – had filled out the form with Ms O’Leary in the ‘husband’ column, and Ms Mohney in the ‘wife’ column.

As the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is still in effect, the court should not have recognised the couple’s marriage in the first place, let alone allow them to divorce.

Defending his mistake, the judge said he had not realised the lesbian couple were both women.

He said: “Ohio goes through great pains to make things gender-neutral (in documents).”

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the judge said the matter is a “legal gray area” – and another hearing will be held next week to try and resolve the matter.

A spokesperson for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine – who is fighting against same-sex marriage – says he has no specific position on same-sex divorces.

Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage was upheld by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in a judgment last month.

The ruling could force the US Supreme Court to take up the issue, as it creates a ‘circuit split’ with the numerous Appeals Courts who have struck down bans.