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Rhode Island high court rules against same-sex divorce

[JURIST] The Rhode Island Supreme Court [official website] Friday ruled [opinion, PDF] that a lesbian couple legally married in Massachusetts does not have the right to divorce in Rhode Island because Rhode Island does not explicitly recognize same-sex marriage. In Chambers v. Ormiston [GLAD amicus brief, PDF; additional case materials], Rhode Island residents Cassandra Ormiston and Margaret Chambers sought to end their 2004 Massachusetts marriage. Lawyers for the couple had argued [JURIST report] that if the divorce was not permitted in Rhode Island, the couple's only recourse is to move to Massachusetts and establish residency for a divorce in that state, which lawyers said would be an unfair burden. AP has more.

In September 2006, a Massachusetts court ruled [JURIST report] that same-sex couples from Rhode Island must be allowed to wed in Massachusetts because Rhode Island does not expressly prohibit same-sex marriage through its state constitution, statutes or appellate court decisions. In February, Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch [official profile] issued a nonbinding advisory letter [PDF text; JURIST report] saying that Rhode Island will recognize same-sex marriages of state employees performed in Massachusetts. Lynch said that same-sex employee partners married in Massachusetts would be granted the same benefits as heterosexual married couples.

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