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Wyoming Supreme Court ruling will allow state jurisdiction in same-sex divorces

Thursday, June 9, 2011
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The Wyoming Supreme Court this week ruled the state’s courts have jurisdiction to grant the divorce of a lesbian couple who were legally married in Canada.

The decision overturns a trial judge’s ruling that Wyoming courts had no authority to grant the divorce because the marriage wasn’t legally recognized in the state. The couple, Paula Christiansen and Victoria Lee Christiansen, were married in Canada in 2008.

The supreme court opinion, written by Justice Michael Golden, made clear the court’s decision only addressed the divorce issue.

“Nothing in this opinion should be taken as applying to the recognition of same-sex marriages legally solemnized in a foreign jurisdiction in any context other than divorce,” Golden wrote in a footnote.

“The question of recognition of such same-sex marriages for any other reason, being not properly before us, is left for another day.”

The opinion said that while common-law marriages entered in Wyoming were invalid, the court recognized, for limited purposes, the validity of common-law marriages entered in out-of-state jurisdictions.

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