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Md. high court to hear same-sex divorce case

  Law Center  -   POSTED: 2012/04/06 16:04

Maryland's highest court is poised to hear arguments in a precedent-setting case involving two women who married in California but were denied a divorce in Maryland, a state that does not currently allow same-sex weddings.

The Court of Appeals of Maryland in Annapolis is set to hear arguments Friday from lawyers for the lesbian couple seeking to end their marriage. A Maryland judge declined to grant their divorce in 2010, concluding that the women's marriage isn't valid under Maryland law.

But lawyers for the women disagree, saying the state should recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere even though it doesn't allow same-sex weddings at this time. They say that as a result, the state should allow the couple to divorce.

The high court's ultimate decision may have limited effect since same-sex weddings, and by extension divorces, are set to start in the state in January 2013 under a law passed this year. But opponents of the new law are seeking to overturn it in a potential voter referendum.

Meanwhile, judges in Maryland are inconsistent about granting divorces for gay couples who married in another state. Lawyers involved in Friday's case say they believe judges have granted about a half a dozen divorces for gay couples, but their clients, Jessica Port and Virginia Anne Cowan, and at least one other couple were recently denied that.

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