Recognizing Gay Marriages From Other States When Divorce Is an Issue

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Media Contact:Jeanne Leong | | 215-573-8151March 7, 2008

Kermit Roosevelt
Professor of Law
University of Pennsylvania

Researches and teaches constitutional law, conflict of laws

“The issue only arises because both sides seem to think that recognizing a marriage in order to dissolve it by divorce will lead courts to recognize the marriage for other purposes. But this simply isn’t true. It’s always been the case that marriages can be recognized for some purposes and not others. U.S. courts have distributed polygamists’ estates to multiple wives without recognizing the validity of polygamous marriages for in-state residents. The question should be whether the reasons that states oppose same-sex marriage are implicated by the act of dissolving one, and the answer is that they aren’t — unless the reason is some sort of distaste for same-sex relationships regardless of their consequences”