Flood Warning issued September 21 at 8:56PM EDT expiring September 26 at 2:00PM EDT in effect for: Hillsborough
Imagine your marriage failed and the state wouldn’t grant you a divorce. That happened to one Tampa same-sex couple whose divorce could overturn the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.
Keiba Lynn and Mariama Shaw looked like any other estranged couple Thursday leaving the Tampa courthouse. They walked separately with their attorneys. Neither talked to the other. They want a divorce to end four years of marriage, but the state won't allow it.
“At this point they are kind of stuck,” said Adam Cordover, Lynn’s lawyer.
Judge Laurel Lee could grant the divorce by declaring the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, Cordover said.
In court Thursday, both attorneys outlined the couple's path. They married in Massachusetts in 2010 then moved to Florida, which won't recognize their marriage. Massachusetts requires couples to live there separated for one year before a divorce. Cordover said his client is frustrated.
"She wants to live her life and she wants to be able to move on. Unfortunately as things are right now she can't move on,” he said.
Ellen Ware, who represents Shaw, said even if Florida does not want to recognize same-sex marriage it should recognize same-sex divorce.
"They come to Florida and they are stuck. They are married permanently until they move away, unless (the) court decides to interpret the law as we have suggested,” Ware said.
Ware added the judge has a second option to grant the couple's petition by ruling the constitutional ban only applies to marriages, therefore the same-sex couple can still divorce.
If the divorce is not granted, the lawyers said they will appeal. The ruling will be made 10 a.m. April 22.