Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for February, 2012

Canada corrects divorce snafu

Timothy Kincaid

February 17th, 2012

Back in January there was ten seconds of panic when it appeared that the Conservative government might seek to invalidate same-sex marriages of non-Canadians. It proved to be either confusion or naive zealousness on the part of a government lawyer and not some plot on the part of Steven Harper and the Conservative leadership to undermine marriage equality.

As it turned out, the problem arose because Canadian law allows for non-residents to marry in Canada, but not divorce. This isn’t generally a problem as divorce isn’t exactly a destination-based activity (“no honey, let’s get divorced on a beach in Hawai’i”) and tend to file papers where they live. But same-sex couples who live in locals that don’t recognize their marriages were left in a strange limbo, married in some places, single in others, but unable to divorce anywhere.

The government promised to fix the legal glitch and confirm that they do recognize Canadian weddings between same-sex foreigners. They have now submitted a bill to do that.

According to the Vancouver Sun, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson stated that the bill was presented to fix “an anomaly in our civil-marriage laws” and that it would validate the marriages in question and that Canada would allow non-resident same-sex couples to divorce if the were married in Canada and unable to divorce in their place of residency.

Wyoming Supremes grant same-sex divorce rights

Timothy Kincaid

June 6th, 2011

The Wyoming Supreme Court has recognized the right of a same-sex couple married in Canada to divorce in that state. They avoided the larger question of whether out-of-state marriage were recognized as such in Wyoming, addressing instead the narrower issue of divorce.

[R]ecognizing a valid foreign same-sex marriage for the limited purpose of entertaining a divorce proceeding does not lessen the law or policy in Wyoming against allowing the creation of same-sex marriages. A divorce proceeding does not involve recognition of a marriage as an ongoing relationship. Indeed, accepting that a valid marriage exists plays no role except as a condition precedent to granting a divorce. After the condition precedent is met, the laws regarding divorce apply. Laws regarding marriage play no role.

Specifically, Paula and Victoria are not seeking to live in Wyoming as a married couple. They are not seeking to enforce any right incident to the status of being married. In fact, it is quite the opposite. They are seeking to dissolve a legal relationship entered into under the laws of Canada. Respecting the law of Canada, as allowed by § 20-1-111, for the limited purpose of accepting the existence of a condition precedent to granting a divorce, is not tantamount to state recognition of an ongoing same-sex marriage. Thus, the policy of this state against the creation of same-sex marriages is not violated.

This does, however, give encouragement to those who would claim other marriage benefits or rights based on an out-of-state marriage.

Much thanks to reader embarcadero

Texas lesbians still divorced

Timothy Kincaid

January 7th, 2011

Texans Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly met and fell in love back around 2002. In 2004 they married in Massachusetts and soon after adopted a child. But things did not work out so last year Angelique and Sabina went their separate ways.

Separation being a difficult process, mediation failed the ladies leaving them desperate for final legal determination of their assets and parental rights. But they had a problem; although they married in Massachusetts, they were not residents of the state and could not divorce there.

So they thought they’d do the rational thing: ask the state that they lived in to put legal sanction on the terms of their division and enforce them. And, perhaps to everyone’s surprise, a Texas judge agreed, and their divorce was finalized on March 31, 2010.

But Greg Abbott, the state’s Attorney General, was having none of it. The constitution bans gay marriage and thus there can be no gay divorce he decreed.

Abbott had no empathy or even the slightest concern with the plight of the women who were in legal limbo. He was interested only in making his point, in fighting ‘the homosexual agenda’ and if he destroyed lives in the process that is of absolutely no concern to him whatsoever. (What a peculiar way of thinking, to be so opposed to some ‘social harm’ that you are willing to wreak havoc on your constituents – who are harming no one – in order to hold up your notion. The social good is subservient to getting your way. Can you imagine intervening to demand that these two women not be able to resolve their property issues because you don’t like gay couples?)

But even the Attorney General isn’t entitled to butt into every case he so desires. And the appellate court ruled that Abbott didn’t have jurisdiction to appeal the case because his assistants did not file a motion to intervene until after state District Judge Scott Jenkins orally granted the divorce.

So for now, the Angelique and Sabina are still divorced.

Consequences of Same-Sex Marriage: Lowest Divorce Rate Since WWII

Jim Burroway

September 4th, 2009

Massachusetts was the first state in the union to grant full marriage rights to same-sex couples. They’ve been at it now for five years, and what do we have to show for it?

According to the most recent data from the National Center For Vital Statistics, Massachusetts retains the national title as the lowest divorce rate state, and the MA divorce rate is about where the US divorce rate was in 1940, prior to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor that triggered the US entrance into World War Two.

Provisional data from 2008 indicates that the Massachusetts divorce rate has dropped from 2.3 per thousand in 2007 down to about 2.0 per thousand for 2008. What does that mean ? To get a sense of perspective consider that the last time the US national divorce rate was 2.0 per thousand (people) was 1940. You read that correctly. The Massachusetts divorce rate is now at about where the US divorce rate was the year before the United States entered World War Two.

Georgia Supreme Court Overturns Ban On Exposing Children To Their Father’s Gay Friends

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2009

The Georgia Supreme Court threw out a lower court’s order banning children from being “exposed” to their father’s gay partner and friends. Fayette County Superior Court Judge Christopher Edwards issued the ruling as part of the 2007 divorce of Eric Duane Mongerson and Sandy Kay Ehlers Mongerson, who had been married 21 years and had four children. The judge’s visitation order prohibited the three youngest children, aged 8 to 16 at the time, from being in contact with their father’s gay and lesbians friends. The state’s high court threw out that visitation order:

“Such an arbitrary classification based on sexual orientation flies in the face of our public policy that encourages divorced parents to participate in the raising of their children,” Justice Robert Benham wrote.

The Fayette County judge’s prohibition “assumes, without evidentiary support, that the children will suffer harm from any such contact,” Benham wrote. But there is no evidence that any member of the gay and lesbian community has engaged in inappropriate conduct in the presence of the children or that the children would be adversely affected by being exposed to members of that community, he said.

UK’s Gay Divorce Rate: 1%

Jim Burroway

August 7th, 2008

This is based only on a couple of years’ worth of data, so it’s hard to know if this is significant. But according to Pink News:

Between December 2005, when gay and lesbian couples gained the legal right to formalise their relationships, and December 2007, there were 24,629 civil partnerships in England and Wales. Couples have to wait at least a year before they can apply for a dissolution of their partnership. Her Majesty’s Court Service told PinkNews.co.uk that between December 2006 to 28th July 2008, there have been just 245 petitions for a dissolution.

According to Pink News, some of those disolution figures may include unions, marriages or partnerships entered into overseas and dissolved by the courts in England and Wales. There are no comparable figures for heterosexual divorce, although the report suggests that somewhere under a quarter of all marriages end in divorce in the first ten years.