For the gay couples freed from wedlock last week, there may be more tears of relief than tears of joy. The first legally sanctioned same-sex divorce in Louisiana beat the first legally sanctioned same-sex marriage in Louisiana on Monday morning. The couple finished their divorce proceedings about two hours before the first same-sex marriage went through the system, following last week’s Supreme Court ruling that made gay marriage a constitutional right throughout the country.
The two New Orleans women who ended their marriage would not have been able to do so before the Supreme Court made its decision last week. They were married in 2009 in Massachusetts, according to the Times-Picayune, and their lawyer said they had been separated for five years and divided up their assets amicably.
The problem for same-sex couples in states that didn’t recognize their marriages was in the residency requirements for marriage and divorce. In Massachusetts, couples needed to simply be in the state for a few days in order to get a marriage license, even if they were from somewhere as far as Louisiana. Once the couples got back to Louisiana, however, their state didn’t recognize the marriage even though other states and the federal government did.
“If you are a couple whose relationship is truly over and done with, it is extremely important to be able to leave the marriage,” Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation at Lambda Legal, a nonprofit that supports equal rights, told the International Business Times before the Supreme Court ruling. It allows you to move on emotionally, “and it also terminates hundreds and hundreds of reciprocal legal rights, protections, but also obligations,”
At the time of the Supreme Court ruling last week, 37 states and the District of Columbia had rules that recognized same-sex marriage. The ruling extended those rights to people in the other 13 states as well.
The Supreme Court has given relief to same-sex couples in other states as well. A filing in Tennessee on Monday was identified as the first divorce request for a same-sex couple there.