Same Sex Couple Obtains Divorce in Wyoming

by Thailand Lawyer on June 8, 2011

By Kimberly Wied

We’ve touched on the topic of same sex marriage in the USA before, and the ways in which federal laws currently affect same-sex marriage, particularly intended marriages between bi-national couples who wish to stay and live together in the same country.

As it stands right now, same-sex couples can not sponsor their partner for a green card to be able to legally live and work in the United States. Nor is same-sex marriage legalized in all states, and the federal law, DOMA, can serve to override court decisions made in separate states.

However, in the most unlikely of places due to its relatively entrenched status as a conservative, Republican-captured state, Wyoming’s Supreme Court issued a ruling on Monday that served to inadvertently acknowledge the legality of same-sex marriage. The Wyoming Court ruled that a lower court erred in dismissing a divorce in a same-sex marriage case, as the same-sex marriage occurred in Canada.

The court opinion, which specifically stated that the court’s decision in no way reflected on the larger debate over federal legal recognition of same-sex marriages, reversed an earlier district court  opinion which dismissed the divorce petition of Paula Christiansen against Victoria Lee Christiansen in 2010 (on grounds of lack of jurisdiction for the case).

The two women celebrated their legal marriage in Canada in 2008, due to Canada’s legal provisions for common-law marriages, civil unions and same-sex marriage under the Civil Marriage Act of 2005 . The Supreme Court made a statement that the marriage in this case was more similar to common-law marriage. Additionally, the Supreme Court decision referred to this fact, in stating that although common-law marriages are not recognized in Wyoming, the court can recognize, in a narrowly defined manner, common-law marriages legally obtained in another state.

In a quick scan of recent news reports on gay rights and gay marriage in the USA, we came across several articles that, although detailing the stark division on the issue among Americans, also provide signs that there is a growing contingent of support among even traditionally conservative Americans for same-sex marriage.

As lawyers, we receive innumerable requests for information about legal gay marriage both in the USA and in Thailand, as well as sponsorship for a partner visa in both countries. If times are changing, and we hope they are, might it be possible to eventually see lawyers specializing in LGBT marriage and family law cases?

Related Documents:

Gay and Lesbian Partner Visas in the US: Part and Parcel of the Immigration Debate?

The Uniting American Families Act: Hope for LGBT Bi-national Couples

US Visa Discrimination against Gays and Lesbians

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