The flipside of gay marriage rights: Divorces begin in Minnesota, Colorado

Dawn Tuckner, a Minnesota woman, told Fox 9 that she was married to another woman in Canada back in 2004. Their relationship, however, ended three years ago. Now, Tuckner may be the first person seeking a same-sex divorce in her state. Minnesota began recognition of equal marriage rights last week on August 1. Tuckner indicated that the dynamics of her relationship changed after she gave birth. Regarding her new legal rights, she said:

”I was so excited. I’ve been stuck in a relationship — basically being married to someone that, we didn’t live together, we had nothing to do, no contact — and it felt like I was trapped…. A mistake I made back in 2004, today it’s still haunting me.”

Tuckner told WCCO CBS-4:

“Everybody makes mistakes, and we shouldn’t be punished for the mistakes we’ve made in the past based on the law.”

In a similar situation, Juli Yim and Lorelei Jones are reportedly the first same-sex couple to legally dissolve a marriage in Colorado.  Coloradoan.com reported on July 29, that the couple was married in Massachusetts in 2009. The state of Colorado adopted a new “civil unions” law on May 1, however, divorce is said to be recognized by the courts, as well. Yim is quoted as saying about her divorce:

“In a way, it’s not necessarily a great thing to be celebrating… By the same token, I have been trying for years to take care of this but have not had an opportunity to live in a state that allowed that.”

Locally, the District of Columbia began recognizing gay couples as legally married in March of 2010. Marriage information can be found at the DC Court’s Family Matters site. Divorce information is found under the Domestic Relations Branch. The site includes forms for “Legal Separation, “Absolute Divorce,” and “Annulment.”

Marriage rights became legal in Maryland in January of 2013. Maryland lists details about marriage and divorce on it’s Family Court website. There are two distinctive types of dissolution: “Limited Divorce” and “Absolute Divorce.” The latter requires a period of one year of non-cohabitation.

Virginia remains a battleground over same-sex marriage rights. A Washington Post poll indicated that a majority of Virginia’s residents support gay marriages. Two lesbian couples filed a federal lawsuit this past week against Gov. Bob McDonnell and other authorities.

The Today show website published an article on Tuesday about the “extra costs” and difficulties associated with divorce for gay couples. They interviewed one man, Jason Dottley, who filed for divorce from his husband in California in April. He said of his experience with the legal system: 

”They would repeatedly say, ‘Well, wait a minute. We have to create a whole new form to incorporate same-sex marriages into this dissolution process.’ … A good 50 percent of the delays were from the court not knowing how to handle things.”

JD Uy has been a Metro Weekly webmaster, distribution manager, blogger and videographer since 2002.

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