Same-sex couples seeking divorce advice in Pasadena are more often than not riddled with the concerns that the laws won't give them the same protection that divorcing straight couples are entitled to. Many states have outdated or just plain discriminatory laws that prevent same-sex couples from receiving equal treatment in divorce court. Now Washington D.C. has set its sights on updating divorce laws for gay and lesbian couples.
D.C. councilman Phil Mendelson was prompted to propose legalization after hearing that same-sex couples who were married in the district were being denied divorces after moving to jurisdictions that don't recognize same-sex marriages. D.C. started allowing sex-same marriages in 2010, but since only a handful of states recognize gay marriage, getting a divorce can be even more complicated.
"I received a number of reports from couples or attorneys about this impossible situation," Mendelson told CNN. His bill lifts the six-month waiting period during which someone seeking a divorce must reside in the district provided they were married in D.C. to begin with.
The proposed bill so far has received positive response from gay and lesbian activists and human rights groups.
"This bill fills a gap in the law created by our being ahead of the historical curve. None of us celebrates the dissolution of a marriage, but equality under the law must extend to every contingency. The lack of a clear legal mechanism for divorce can make an unhappy situation much worse for all involved," said Rick Rosendall of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington.
Experts say the measure is likely to pass, as 7 of the 13 members co-sponsored the bill. Before the bill can become a law in the city of D.C., approval by the mayor or an override is needed, as is a 30-day congressional review period.