Legal expert: AL judge likely to deny same-sex divorce request - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Legal expert: AL judge likely to deny same-sex divorce request

The couple wed in Iowa in 2012, and filed a divorce petition in Madison County this week. (Source: MGN Online) The couple wed in Iowa in 2012, and filed a divorce petition in Madison County this week. (Source: MGN Online)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

A same-sex couple that was legally married out of state may be denied a divorce in Madison County.

Legal expert Mark McDaniel said in his opinion that will be because it is legally impossible to do so in the state of Alabama. The state passed the Alabama Marriage Protection Act in 1998, which rejects same-sex marriage and does not recognize licenses issued in other states.

McDaniel suspects the Madison County judge who was assigned the case will not sign off on the petition. He also suspects the appellate court and the state Supreme Court will agree with them and deny the divorce.

"In my opinion, to get any kind of relief, if they are going to win this, it is going to be in federal court. What the State of Alabama would argue is that this is a state's rights issue. This is a state matter that we control who can and can't get married in the state of Alabama," said McDaniel.

McDaniel said the attorney for the couple would argue that it is a federal issue because they are being denied equal protection.

James Robinson, Executive Director of the GLBT Advocacy and Youth Services Center in Huntsville, said the intent of the court filing is likely to raise awareness for equal rights. "I don't know them personally, but I am certain they are aware of what they are doing. If they grant their divorce, it is an acknowledgement of their marriage. If they don't, it's another step in the right direction of moving this through the court system," Robinson said.

McDaniel said in order to get a divorce, the only other route for the couple as of now would be to move to a state that accepts same-sex marriages and meet its residency requirement. In some states that is six months; in others, you are required to live there for two years before filing for divorce.

No matter the hurdles, Robinson said it is a step that could move Alabama forward towards equal rights. "The more we talk about it, the more we prepare communities in Alabama and Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia to pave the way for wonderful new additions to our communities," he said.

The attorney for the couple was reached for comment, but did not respond Tuesday. So far, the Madison County judge assigned to the case, Karen Hall, has not set a hearing date.

Copyright 2014 WAFF. All rights reserved. 

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