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Gay Marriage Ruling Indirectly Impacts Divorce Case

Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia’s July ruling that Florida’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional may help the cases of not only same-sex couples who are fighting for the right to marry, but also the case of a Tampa couple that is currently seeking a divorce.

Mariama Changamire Shaw and Keiba Lynn Shaw, two women who were wed in Massachusetts four years ago, have filed for divorce in Florida, where they currently reside. However, claiming the state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages performed anywhere in the country, a Hillsborough County Circuit Court judge has declined to grant the divorce.

In an unprecedented showing of unity, each of the Shaws’ lawyers had argued that the marriage should be recognized by Florida because the state’s ban was a violation of their constitutional rights, an argument that echoes that of same-sex marriage cases being fought all around the state. The judge did not give credence to this argument, however, and refused the Shaws’ request.

This case did not garner enough attention to warrant the appearance of a representative for Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has continued to champion the ban on same-sex marriages, but it might in the future. The Shaws plan to take the case to the Second District Court of Appeal, hoping the state’s many supporters of marriage equality will help them win a ruling in their favor.

Whether the Court of Appeal rules in their favor or not, the decision will be another in a series of significant impacts to both the state’s and the country’s view of the constitutional rights of citizens. Contact a Jacksonville, Florida divorce attorney from Combs Greene if you need legal guidance on a family law issue.

Attorney Andrea Jevic also contributed to this blog post.

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