Same-sex family law appeal has Maryland connection

On Aug. 26, the Chicago-based 7th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments regarding whether the ban against same-sex marriages in Wisconsin and Indiana should be upheld. The three-judge panel listened to arguments from the attorneys representing several same-sex couples who brought the challenge.

This case came to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals as a result of a lower court decision to strike down a 2006 Wisconsin state amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. The judge in that case held off on allowing same-sex couples to marry until Wisconsin state officials appealed her decision. Now, both sides are giving their arguments on an issue that is likely headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Wisconsin assistant attorney general argued that society as a whole benefits from only allowing opposite-sex people to marry, and thus preserving a long-standing tradition.

The chief complaint advocates for same-sex marriage argued before the court was that they were harmed by Indiana and Wisconsin's' refusal to extend the same benefits and privileges to them as are currently enjoyed by traditional couples. In the crowd of same-sex couples who showed up to the hearing was a retired Indiana firefighter dressed in her battalion chief uniform. She told reporters that she had been married to a woman last year in Maryland and wanted Indiana to extend spousal benefits to her wife.

The court heard arguments for one hour and 40 minutes in which one of the judges gave the Wisconsin assistant attorney general several sharp rebuttals. At one point, the judge argued that Wisconsin's position against same-sex marriage was absurd, and he suggested that children adopted by same-sex couples were actually harmed by their parent's inability to obtain equal benefits and privileges as traditional couples.

Maryland same-sex couples have the right to marry in our state. Alternatively, they also have the right to divorce. Just as in a traditional divorce, family law matters such as child custody, child support, spousal support and assets and property division are always at issue. If you are a same-sex spouse contemplating a divorce here in Maryland you should take care to ensure that your attorney is experienced in resolving those issues.

Source: Governing.com, "Appeals Panel Questions Wisconsin and Indiana's Gay Marriage Bans" Patrick Marley, Aug. 27, 2014

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