Family Law

R.I. Gay Couple Can’t Divorce There, State High Court Rules


The Rhode Island Supreme Court has refused to allow the state’s courts to grant a divorce to a lesbian couple married in Massachusetts.

The 3-2 ruling (PDF) released Friday said Rhode Island defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and the legislature would have to change the law before courts in the state can divorce gay couples, the Boston Globe reports.

The court said its role was “not to determine policy, but simply to determine legislative intent,” the New York Times reports.

Karen Loewy, a staff lawyer with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, criticized the decision. She told the Globe the only “guaranteed place” the couple can get a divorce is Massachusetts, but one of the spouses would have to move there and establish residency before filing.

The decision was in the case of Cassandra Ormiston and Margaret Chambers, who married in 2004 only a week after Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage.

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