A Lesbian Divorce Could Challenge Florida's Gay Marriage Ban
Gay marriage isn't legal in Florida, but apparently gay divorce is. Sort of.
There have been a handful of Florida judges granting same-sex divorces in Florida that attracted little publicity. However, a new divorce case in Tampa seeks to dissolve not only the couple's marriage but also Florida's gay marriage ban.
Mariama Changamire Shaw and Keiba Lynn Shaw married in Massachusetts in 2010, and in 2011 they moved to Tampa, where Changamire Shaw is now an adjunct professor at the University of Tampa.
The couple decided to separate last October and soon realized their divorce options were tricky. To be granted a divorce in Massachusetts, one of them would have to live in the state for at least a year. So Changamire Shaw decided to proceed with divorce filings in Florida.
A lawyer representing couples in another case who wish to get married tells the Tampa Bay Times that a small number of same-sex divorces have already been granted in Florida (still, however, most requests are denied). Those cases attracted little attention and apparently not much reflection about what that meant for Florida's legal ramifications involving same-sex marriage.
The Shaw divorce is different. Changamire Shaw's lawyer has notified Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's office that the couple is looking not only to divorce in the state but also to overturn Florida's gay marriage ban.
This wouldn't be the first time a divorce has been used to challenge marriage laws. In 2011, two same-sex couples who had married in Canada sought divorces in Wyoming. The cases went all the way to the state supreme court, where ultimately Wyoming ruled that while the state would not recognize gay marriage, it would grant gay divorces.
Several other court cases in the works also seek to overturn Florida's same-sex marriage laws.