Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law, the Defense of Marriage Act, which had kept legally married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits available to other married couples. The court did not address similar state laws that are in effect.
Nineteen states and Washington D.C. currently recognize same-sex marriage. Right-to-divorce cases have cropped up in other states with constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, after partners wed in states where they could.
“Academics and legal scholars are probably very interested in the procedural issues here, but (the decision) doesn’t go at all to divorce or marriage or the constitution or any of the substantive issues,” Mikolajczyk said.
The Lancaster County judge had issued an order giving Bonnie Nichols 15 days to file an amended complaint to pursue a different legal theory to try to dissolve her union to Margie Nichols. The order said that if she did not, the case would be dismissed with prejudice, meaning it can’t be refiled. Bonnie Nichols did not file an amended complaint and instead appealed.
The trial judge has already contacted lawyers in the case to possibly discuss entering a final order that Bonnie Nichols can appeal, Mikolajczyk said.
“We plan to keep moving forward,” she said. “I don’t think this is the end by any means.”
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