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Can gay marriage stop straight divorce?

Most Colorado readers are aware of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legitimizes same-sex marriage across the nation. In the aftermath of that groundbreaking decision, many people continue to have difficulty accepting the fact that marriage has been made possible to all, regardless of their gender. A recent divorce case serves as an example of the ire that can result in the wake of sweeping social change, as a family court judge refuses to grant a divorce to a heterosexual couple, citing the SCOTUS decision within his unusual ruling.

The spouses who came before the court were both in their 60s. In presenting their case to the court, they brought in seven witnesses, and submitted 77 different exhibits. The judge heard testimony and reviewed the evidence, but ultimately refused to grant the couple's divorce.

Within the ruling, the judge suggested that only the Supreme Court seemed to hold the authority to determine issues of marriage and that the jurisdiction of the state's courts was effectively preempted. Therefore, his ability to rule on matters of a contested divorce was also impeded. For the couple caught in the middle of the issue, the decision means that they will remain married against their will, at least for the time being. They may file for divorce again but will need to do so using different grounds.

This is an unusual outcome, and should not give Colorado spouses cause for concern about their own divorce case. That said, this is not the only case in which the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage has come into play. Some believe that this and similar instances are the result of individual judges using cases as a means of expressing their disapproval of the SCOTUS approach to gay marriage. Unfortunately, couples such as the one mentioned here are left caught in the middle of a debate to which they have no apparent connection.   

Source:, "Tennessee judge refuses straight couple's divorce, citing SCOTUS gay marriage", Sept. 7, 2015

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