Tag Archives: divorce

After legalization of same-sex marriage, Wisconsin marriage rate is highest since 2007

A state report shows the legalization of gay marriage last year boosted the number of couples tying the knot to the highest rate Wisconsin has reported since 2007.

The Department of Health Services report found there were a total of 32,776 marriages performed in the state in 2014, an increase of 2,797 from the year before.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb last year ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. More than 500 same-sex couples were married within a month of the decision. 

The number of divorces also dropped from 15,941 in 2013 to 15,243 in 2014.

Florida attorney general asks Supreme Court to block gay marriages

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed an emergency petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to try to keep the state’s gay marriage ban in place past Jan. 5.

Bondi this week filed a request with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who oversees emergency appeals from Florida, Alabama and Georgia.

A federal appeals court in Atlanta refused earlier this month to extend past Jan. 5 a hold on a ruling that declared Florida’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. The decision possibly brings same-sex weddings one step closer to reality in the state.

But Bondi’s office said that the state’s ban needs to stay in place to avoid confusion while it appeals the ruling. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in August ruled the voter approved ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

The conservative tea party Republican has said it is her duty to protect the state amendment barring gay couples from marrying in the Sunshine State. She has said that allowing gay couples to marry in the state would “impose significant public harm.”

Bondi has been married three times and divorced twice.

In a legal defense of the ban on same-sex marriage earlier this year, the attorney general said, “Florida’s marriage laws have a close, direct, and rational relationship to society’s legitimate interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units.”

Catholic Bishops vote down Vatican proposal to be more welcoming of gay

Catholic bishops scrapped their landmark welcome to gays Saturday, showing deep divisions at the end of a two-week meeting sought by Pope Francis to chart a more merciful approach to ministering to Catholic families.

The bishops approved a final report covering a host of issues related to Catholic family life, acknowledging there were “positive elements” in civil heterosexual unions outside the church and even in cases when men and women were living together outside marriage.

They also said the church must respect Catholics in their moral evaluation of “methods used to regulate births,” a seemingly significant deviation from church teaching barring any form of artificial contraception.

But the bishops failed to reach consensus on a watered-down section on ministering to homosexuals. The new section had stripped away the welcoming tone of acceptance contained in a draft document earlier in the week.

Rather than considering gays as individuals who had gifts to offer the church, the revised paragraph referred to homosexuality as one of the problems Catholic families face. It said “People with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and sensitivity,” but repeated church teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

The revised paragraph failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

Two other paragraphs concerning the other hot-button issue at the synod of bishops — whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion — also failed to pass.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the failure of the paragraphs to pass meant that they have to be discussed further to arrive at a consensus at a meeting of bishops next October.

It could be that the 118–62 vote on the gay paragraph was a protest vote of sorts by progressive bishops who refused to back the watered-down wording and wanted to keep the issue alive. The original draft had said gays had gifts to offer the church and that their partnerships, while morally problematic, provided gay couples with “precious” support.

New Ways Ministry, a Catholic gay rights group, said it was “very disappointing” that the final report had backtracked from the welcoming words contained in the draft. Nevertheless, it said the synod’s process “and openness to discussion provides hope for further development down the road, particularly at next year’s synod, where the makeup of the participants will be larger and more diverse, including many more pastorally-oriented bishops.”

A coalition of small pro-life groups, Voice of the Family, said the outcome of the meeting had only contributed to “deepening the confusion that has already damaged families since the sexual revolution of the 1960s.”

The gay section of the draft report had been written by a Francis appointee, Monsignor Bruno Forte, a theologian known for pushing the pastoral envelope on ministering to people in “irregular” unions. The draft was supposed to have been a synopsis of the bishops’ interventions, but many conservatives complained that it reflected a minority and overly progressive view.

Francis insisted in the name of transparency that the full document — including the three paragraphs that failed to pass — be published along with the voting tally. The document will serve as the basis for future debate leading up to the October 2015 meeting of bishops, which will produce a final report for Francis to help him write a teaching document of his own.

“Personally I would have been very worried and saddened if there hadn’t been these … animated discussions … or if everyone had been in agreement or silent in a false and acquiescent peace,” Francis told the synod hall after the vote.

Conservatives had harshly criticized the draft and proposed extensive revisions to restate church doctrine, which holds that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered,” but that gays themselves are to be respected, and that marriage is only between a man and a woman. In all, 460 amendments were submitted.

“We could see that there were different viewpoints,” said Cardinal Oswald Gracis of India, when asked about the most contentious sections of the report on homosexuals and divorced and remarried Catholics.

German Cardinal Walter Kasper, the leader of the progressive camp, said he was “realistic” about the outcome.

In an unexpected gesture after the voting, Francis approached a group of journalists waiting outside the synod hall to thank them for their work covering the meeting. Francis has rarely if ever approached a scrum of journalists, except during his airborne press conferences.

“Thanks to you and your colleagues for the work you have done,” he said. “Grazie tante (Thanks a lot).” Conservative bishops had harshly criticized journalists for reporting on the dramatic shift in tone in the draft document, even though the media reports merely reflected the document’s content.

Francis also addressed the bishops, criticizing their temptation to be overly wed to doctrine and “hostile rigidity,” and on the flip side a temptation to “destructive do-goodness.” His speech received a four-minute standing ovation, participants said.

Over the past week, the bishops split themselves up into working groups to draft amendments to the text. They were nearly unanimous in insisting that church doctrine on family life be more fully asserted and that faithful Catholic families should be held up as models and encouraged rather than focus on family problems and “irregular” unions.

Before crucial meeting, Catholic cardinals debate marriage

The battle lines are being drawn before a major church meeting on family issues that represents a key test for Pope Francis.

Five high-ranking cardinals have taken one of Francis’ favorite theologians to task over an issue dear to the pope’s heart: Whether Catholics who divorce and remarry without an annulment can receive Communion.

They have written a book, “Remaining in the Truth of Christ,” to rebut German Cardinal Walter Kasper, whom Francis praised in his first Sunday blessing after he was elected pope as “a great theologian” and subsequently entrusted with a keynote speech to set the agenda for the two-year study on marriage, divorce and family life that opens Oct. 5.

Kasper, for a decade the Vatican’s top official dealing with the Orthodox and Jews, delivered his remarks to cardinals earlier this year on the issues to be discussed during the synod. At the pope’s request, he asked whether these divorced and remarried Catholics might be allowed in limited cases to receive the Eucharist after a period of penance.

The outcry that ensued has turned the 81-year-old Kasper into the biggest lightning rod for internal debate that the Catholic Church has seen in years.

Conservatives, including the five cardinal authors, have vehemently opposed Kasper’s suggestion as contrary to Christ’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

The second most powerful man in the Vatican has backed their view: Cardinal George Pell, one of Francis’ key advisers, wrote in another new book that debating something that is so peripheral to begin with and so clear in church teaching amounts to “a counterproductive and futile search for short-term consolations.”

“Every opponent of Christianity wants the church to capitulate on this issue,” Pell wrote. “We should speak clearly, because the sooner the wounded, the lukewarm and the outsiders realize that substantial doctrinal and pastoral changes are impossible, the more the hostile disappointment (which must follow the reassertion of doctrine) will be anticipated and dissipated.”

Francis, however, seems to think otherwise. He praised Kasper’s speech, calling it “profound theology” that did him much good and represented a true love for the church.

Church insiders say Francis is none too pleased by the war of words that has ensued, such that he instructed one of the book authors – Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the Vatican’s top doctrinal chief – not to promote it.

The unusually raw and public debate has crystalized the growing discomfort among conservatives to some of Francis’ words and deeds, and sets the stage for a likely heated discussion on family issues.

Church teaching holds that Catholics who don’t have their first marriage annulled – or declared null by a church tribunal – before remarrying can’t participate fully in the church’s sacraments because they are essentially living in sin and committing adultery. Such annulments are often impossible to get or can take years to process, leaving untold numbers of Catholics unable to receive Communion.

Francis has asserted church doctrine on the matter but has called for a more merciful, pastoral approach. He reportedly told an Argentine woman earlier this year that she was free to receive Communion even though her husband’s first marriage was never annulled.

Knowing the issue is divisive, though, he has convened the whole church to discuss it.

The new book asserts there really is no better solution – and no grounds to argue for it since Catholic doctrine is clear. Aside from Mueller, the authors include another high-ranking Vatican official: Cardinal Raymond Burke, the American head of the Vatican’s supreme court.

“These are not a series of rules made up by the church; they constitute divine law, and the church cannot change them,” the book says. Kasper’s assertions, reading of history and suggestions for debate “reinforce misleading understandings of both fidelity and mercy.”

Kasper has agreed there can be no change to church doctrine and no sweeping, across-the-board allowances. But he has said the matter must be looked at on a case-by-case basis, that mercy is God’s greatest attribute and the key to Christian existence, and that God always gives faithful Catholics a new chance if they repent.

It is rare for cardinals to publicly and pointedly accuse one another of being wrong, and rarer still for a cardinal to question the pope, as Burke has done.

Regarding the purported phone call to the Argentine woman, Burke told the EWTN Catholic channel: “I wouldn’t for a moment impute that Pope Francis intended to give a signal about church doctrine by calling someone on the phone. This is just absurd.”

Burke has also questioned Francis’ first encyclical on the excesses of capitalism and obliquely criticized Francis’ decision to not focus on abortion.

Francis last year removed Burke, a key figure in the U.S. culture wars over abortion and gay marriage, as a member of the powerful Congregation for Bishops. A leading Vatican insider has reported that his days at the Vatican high court are numbered.

Florida Supreme Court asked to decide marriage equality case

Florida’s highest court is being asked to decide whether or not the state’s ban on gay marriage is constitutional.

In an unusual decision, the state’s 2nd District Court of Appeal on Aug. 27 asked the Florida Supreme Court to settle the question due to “great public importance.” If the high court takes up the case, it could result in having the issue settled before the U.S. Supreme Court acts.

The ruling is connected to a Hillsborough County divorce case involving a same-sex couple who had been married in Massachusetts but since relocated to the Tampa area. Their petition to dissolve their marriage was rejected by a Florida judge who noted that state law does not recognize gay marriage.

“Resolution of the constitutional questions will no doubt impact far more individuals than the two involved here,” states the unsigned opinion. “And there can be little doubt that until the constitutional questions are finally resolved by the Florida Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court, there will be a great impact on the proper administration of justice in Florida.”

A panel of judges with the Lakeland based appeals court earlier this summer rejected a request to forward the case up the state Supreme Court. But that ruling was overturned in a 10-3 decision by the entire appeals court.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has asked judges to stop ruling on same-sex marriage cases until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether states can ban gay marriage. But her request has not been ruled on yet. Bondi’s office was not involved in the Hillsborough County case, but a spokeswoman said the ruling is being reviewed now by the attorney general.

Voters approved Florida’s ban in 2008.

But judges in four Florida counties – Palm Beach, Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward- have overturned the ban. Last week a federal judge also overturned the ban. No marriage licenses have been issued so far as the cases have either been appealed or judges have issued a stay to delay the effect of the ruling.

Gay marriage proponents have won more than 20 legal decisions against state same-sex marriage restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year.

1st openly gay Episcopal bishop getting divorced

The first openly gay Episcopal bishop, who became a symbol for gay rights far beyond the church while deeply dividing the world’s Anglicans, plans to divorce his husband.

Bishop Gene Robinson announced the end of his marriage to Mark Andrew in an email sent to the Diocese of New Hampshire, where he served for nine years before retiring in 2012.

Robinson would not disclose details about the end of their 25-year relationship but wrote Sunday in The Daily Beast he owed a debt to Andrew “for standing by me through the challenges of the last decade.”

“It is at least a small comfort to me, as a gay rights and marriage equality advocate, to know that like any marriage, gay and lesbian couples are subject to the same complications and hardships that afflict marriages between heterosexual couples,” Robinson wrote. “All of us sincerely intend, when we take our wedding vows, to live up to the ideal of `til death do us part. But not all of us are able to see this through until death indeed parts us.”

Robinson did not respond to email and phone requests for comment from The Associated Press.

Robinson has never been fully accepted within the more than 70 million-member Anglican Communion, which is rooted in the Church of England and represented in the United States by the Episcopal Church.

The bishop endured death threats during his 2003 consecration and intense scrutiny of his personal life, and in 2006, he sought treatment for alcoholism. His election prompted some Episcopal dioceses and parishes to break away and establish the Anglican Church in North America with other theological conservatives overseas. Robinson was barred in 2008 by then-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams from the Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade global meeting of all Anglican bishops, as Williams struggled to find a way to keep Anglicans united.

But Robinson was also widely celebrated as a pioneer for gay rights, became an advocate for gay marriage and was the subject of several books and a documentary about Christianity, the Bible and same-sex relationships. He delivered the benediction at the opening 2009 inaugural event for President Barack Obama and, after retirement, became a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank with close ties to the White House.

Robinson, 66, had been married to a woman and had two children before he and his wife divorced. He and Andrew had been partners for more than a decade when Robinson was elected to lead the New Hampshire Diocese. The two men were joined in a 2008 civil union in New Hampshire, which became a legal marriage when the state recognized gay marriage two years later.

“My belief in marriage is undiminished by the reality of divorcing someone I have loved for a very long time, and will continue to love even as we separate,” Robinson wrote. “Love can endure, even if a marriage cannot.”

A spokeswoman for Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori referred requests for comment to the Diocese of New Hampshire. A spokeswoman for current New Hampshire Bishop Rob Hirschfeld cited an email he sent to local clergy and wardens urging prayer for Robinson and Andrew.

Robert Lundy, a spokesman for the American Anglican Council, a fellowship for theological conservatives, said the argument against gay marriage is based on the Bible and will not be helped or hurt by the dissolution of any one marriage.

“The teaching of the Bible and the Anglican Communion is very clear that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life,” Lundy said in a phone interview.

The Rev. Susan Russell, an Episcopal gay rights leader in the Diocese of Los Angeles who preached at Robinson and Andrew’s union, said the end of the men’s marriage was tragic, but Robinson would remain an “icon of a faithful Christian man living out his vocation, not by his choice, but by his placement in history.”

“Of course, he’ll get some slings and arrows,” Russell said in a phone interview. “But the paradigm has shifted so dramatically that people more and more get that our marriages are no different than anyone else’s marriages, and that includes the reality that some of them fail, no matter our dreams and hopes.”

Alabama judge refuses to let women divorce

A judge ruled this week that two women who were legally married in Iowa can’t divorce in Alabama because the state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages.

Circuit Judge Karen Hall of Huntsville issued a two-sentence order throwing out the uncontested divorce of Shrie Michelle Richmond and Kirsten Allysse Richmond.

Shrie Richmond filed the complaint this month saying the two were legally married in Dubuque, Iowa, in 2012. The suit said the two women, who are separated, no longer get along and want a divorce.

The other woman didn’t fight the divorce. But the judge’s decision said the case was being dismissed because laws in Alabama, which still prohibit same-sex unions, do not apply in such cases.

The Iowa Supreme Court overturned that state’s ban on gay marriages in 2009, and state law requires couples seeking a divorce in the state to live there for one year beforehand.

Attorney Patrick Hill, who represents Shrie Richmond, said neither of the women wants to move to get a divorce.

“They’re both from here in Alabama, and this is where their homes, family and friends are,” he said.

Hill said the judge “did what she needed to do under the current state of the law in Alabama.” He said he would appeal, either by asking Hall to reconsider her decision or going to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.

“It allows us to begin the process of attempting to change the law,” Hill said.

Seventeen states currently recognize same-sex marriage, and differing laws between states have led to similar court decisions.

In neighboring Mississippi, a woman who was legally married to another woman is asking the state to recognize their California marriage so she can get a divorce.

In Kentucky, a federal judge has struck down that state’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states, and couples in Missouri are challenging a similar law there.

Pope opens big week with sex, marriage, divorce on agenda

Meetings this week between Pope Francis and his cardinals will deal with some of the thorniest issues facing the church, including the rejection by most Catholics of some of its core teaching on premarital sex, contraception, gays and divorce.

German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has called for “changes and openings” in the church’s treatment of divorced and remarried Catholics, will give the keynote speech Thursday to the pope and cardinals attending a preparatory meeting for an October summit on family issues.

The cardinals are in town for a ceremony to formally install 19 new “princes of the church,” the first batch named by Francis to join the group of churchmen who will elect his successor. The ceremony is the high point of an intensive week of meetings presided over by Francis that include the first proposals to put the Vatican’s financial house in order.

Ahead of the consistory, cardinals will meet for two days behind closed doors to begin preparations for the October summit on family issues.

Francis scheduled the summit last year and took the unusual step of sending bishops around the world a questionnaire for ordinary Catholics to fill out about how they understand and practice church teaching on marriage, sex and other issues related to the family.

The results, at least those reported by bishops in Europe and the United States, have been eye-opening. Bishops themselves reported that the church’s core teachings on sexual morals, birth control, homosexuality, marriage and divorce are rejected as unrealistic and outdated by the vast majority of Catholics, who nevertheless said they were active in parish life and considered their faith vitally important.

“On the matter of artificial contraception the responses might be characterized by the saying, `That train left the station long ago,'” Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, recently wrote on his blog, summarizing his survey’s findings. “Catholics have made up their minds and the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful) suggests the rejection of church teaching on this subject.”

German and Swiss bishops released similar survey results earlier this month. German bishops reported this: “The church’s statements on premarital sexual relations, on homosexuality, on those divorced and remarried and on birth control … are virtually never accepted, or are expressly rejected in the vast majority of cases.”

The Swiss bishops went further, saying the church’s very mission was being threatened by its insistence on such directives.

Kasper, who retired in 2010 after a decade as the Vatican’s chief ecumenical officer, has for years held out hope that the Vatican might accommodate these remarried Catholics who are forbidden from participating fully in the church’s sacraments unless they get an annulment.

“What is possible with God – namely forgiveness – we should be able to succeed within the church, too,” he told Germany’s Die Zeit in December.

Church teaching holds that unless that first marriage is annulled, or declared null and void by a church tribunal, Catholics who remarry cannot receive Communion because they are essentially living in sin and committing adultery. Such annulments are often impossible to get or can take years to process, a problem that has left generations of Catholics feeling shunned from their church.

Last year, the German diocese of Freiburg issued a set of guidelines explaining how such remarried Catholics could get around the rule. It said if certain criteria are met – if the spouses were trying to live according to the faith and acted with laudable motivation – they could receive Communion and other sacraments of the church.

The Vatican’s chief doctrinal czar immediately shot down the initiative, insisting there is no way around the rule. Cardinal-elect Gerhard Mueller, like Kasper a German theologian, cited documents from popes past and his own office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in rejecting arguments that mercy should prevail over church rules or that people should follow their own consciences to decide if their first marriage was valid or not.

“It is not for the individuals concerned to decide on its validity, but rather for the church,” he wrote in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

But Kasper has said the issue can and should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Francis himself has made clear he wants to help these Catholics and that the annulment process itself must be reviewed because the church’s tribunals currently are not able to deal with their caseload. He has said now was a “season of mercy.”

Francis is a big fan of Kasper. During his first Sunday noon blessing as pope, Francis praised Kasper by name, saying he was a terrific theologian who had just written a great book on mercy.

American canon lawyer Edward Peters, who has written extensively on the American annulment process, said Monday that compromise is not possible on annulments themselves since that is the only way baptized Catholics can remarry. But in a blog post, he said the Vatican might consider some “process-smoothing provisions” that were approved for the U.S. church back in the 1970s, including the elimination of the mandatory appeal to Rome.

Vatican panel finds Catholics ignore church’s sex rules

New surveys commissioned by the Vatican show that the vast majority of Catholics in Germany and Switzerland reject church teaching on contraception, sexual morality, gay unions and divorce, findings remarkable both in their similarity and in the fact that they were even publicized.

The Vatican took the unusual step of commissioning the surveys ahead of a major meeting of bishops that Pope Francis has called for October to discuss family issues. The poll was sent last year to every national conference of bishops with a request to share it widely among Catholic institutions, parishes and individuals.

This week, German and Swiss bishops reported the results: The church’s core teachings on sexual morals, birth control, homosexuality, marriage and divorce were rejected as unrealistic and outdated by the vast majority of Catholics, who nevertheless said they were active in parish life and considered their faith vitally important.

Also surprising was the eagerness with which the bishops publicized the results. The German bishops’ conference released them simultaneously in German, Italian and English on their website, and the Swiss held a press conference.

The German church has been at the forefront of pushing boundaries on core church teachings concerning divorced and remarried Catholics, an issue Francis has said greatly pains him. It is expected to feature prominently in the October meeting.

The German bishops’ survey made clear: “The church’s statements on premarital sexual relations, on homosexuality, on those divorced and remarried and on birth control … are virtually never accepted, or are expressly rejected in the vast majority of cases.”

The Swiss bishops went further, saying the church’s very mission was being threatened by its insistence on such directives. It’s an issue Francis himself has weighed in on, decrying the church’s “obsession” with small-minded rules.

By contrast, U.S. dioceses haven’t reported the results of their surveys in any detail. Baltimore Archbishop William Lori wrote in a recent diocesan article that more than 4,000 people had responded to his survey, but provided scant information on what they said. He wrote that “the majority of Catholics who responded said they strive to practice their faith, but acknowledged the struggles and confusion they face in doing so.”

The archdiocese of Philadelphia, meanwhile, said it was following Vatican guidelines by not publishing the findings at all.

But if independent studies are any indication, American Catholics are likely to agree with their European counterparts at least on the issue of contraception. A 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center found that three-quarters of U.S. Catholics think the church should permit members to use birth control.

Church teaching holds that marriage is an indissoluble union between a man and woman. The Vatican opposes artificial contraception and considers homosexual acts to be “intrinsically disordered.”

The surveys found that German and Swiss Catholics rejected such teachings as out of step with their personal lives. Gay marriage is increasingly accepted, unmarried couples are increasingly the norm and the ban on artificial contraception is deemed not only unrealistic but “blatantly immoral” concerning the use of condoms to fight HIV.

Church teaching also holds that Catholics who don’t have their first marriage annulled, or declared null and void by a church tribunal, before remarrying cannot receive Communion because they are essentially living in sin and committing adultery. Such annulments are often impossible to get or can take years to process, a problem that has left generations of Catholics feeling shunned.

Last year, the German diocese of Freiburg issued a set of guidelines explaining how such remarried Catholics could get around the rule. It said if certain criteria are met – if the spouses were trying to live according to the faith and acted with laudable motivation – they could receive Communion and other sacraments of the church.

The Vatican immediately shot down the initiative, with the Vatican’s German doctrinal czar insisting there is no way around the rule.

Despite the survey findings, moral theologians warned that church doctrine isn’t about to change.

“The surveys indicate what Francis already knew and the reason why he has chosen the family for the focus of his reform,” said the Rev. Robert Gahl, a moral theologian at Rome’s Pontifical Holy Cross University.

He said the church relies on marriage and strong families to raise children in the faith. “The surveys show that the church must do much more to foster appreciation for the fidelity of such unconditional and life-giving love when society sees personal relationships in the fleeting terms of utility and gratification,” he said.

Mississippi judge denies same-sex couple a divorce

A Mississippi judge this week has refused to grant a divorce to a lesbian couple who got married in California, saying the marriage wasn’t recognized under state law, according to the woman who filed and her lawyer.

Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham, who filed for the divorce in September in north Mississippi’s DeSoto County, said in a telephone interview Monday that the judge seemed sympathetic and that she plans to appeal the ruling.

Czekala-Chatham, a 51-year-old credit analyst and mother of two teenage sons from an earlier straight marriage, said she was “a little bit disappointed.”

“I would have liked to have had the divorce, but either way he ruled, it was going to be appealed,” she said.

Democrat Attorney General Jim Hood’s office had argued that Mississippi can’t grant a divorce in a marriage it doesn’t recognize. Hood’s office said in a motion to intervene on Nov. 15 that Mississippi “has no obligation to give effect to California laws that are contrary to Mississippi’s expressly stated public policy.”

Czekala-Chatham’s lawyer, Wesley Hisaw, said Desoto County Chancery Judge Mitchell Lundy said he felt that “his hands were tied” by Mississippi law.

Mississippi lawmakers amended state law in 1997 to say any same-sex marriage “is prohibited and null and void from the beginning. Any marriage between persons of the same gender that is valid in another jurisdiction does not constitute a legal or valid marriage in Mississippi.”

In 2004, 86 percent of Mississippi voters approved an amendment placing a ban on same-sex marriage in the state constitution.

Czekala-Chatham and Dana Ann Melancon traveled to San Francisco to get married in 2008. They bought a house together in Mississippi the following year, but their relationship soured.

They could get a divorce in California, but Czekala-Chatham says she shouldn’t be treated differently than straight couples. And Hisaw argued that Mississippi wouldn’t recognize the divorce from California, which could leave their marital property in limbo.

In his written arguments for a divorce, Hisaw cited a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and ordered the U.S. government to recognize legal same-sex marriages. That has created a situation where same-sex couples “are married lawfully under the laws of the United States, but not under Mississippi law,” Hisaw contends.

Right-to-divorce cases have cropped up in some other states with constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. On Nov. 5, the Texas Supreme Court heard arguments about whether the state can grant divorces to gay couples married elsewhere.

The plaintiffs are couples from Austin and Dallas who married in Massachusetts and later filed for divorce in Texas. The Austin couple was granted a divorce, but Attorney General Greg Abbott intervened in the Dallas case and won an appeals court decision blocking a divorce.

In the oral arguments, Assistant Attorney General James Blacklock argued there’s no way for Texas to grant a divorce because of the constitutional ban.

“There’s no marriage here,” he said. “So there can be no divorce.”

A similar case has just commenced in Kentucky, where two women married in Massachusetts are seeking a divorce.

At least one same-sex couple has been able to get a divorce in a state that doesn’t officially recognize same-sex marriages. In 2011, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled that two women married in Canada could get a divorce in the state, reversing a ruling by a district judge.