Leaving the Door Open on the Way Out
It ought to raise suspicions about their cause when marriage advocates seek to advance it through divorce:
[Karen L. Loewy, staff attorney for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders] said Rhode Island recognizes marriages validly entered in other jurisdictions, unless there’s a strong public policy reason not to, and she said there’s no such reason in this case. She said it’s the common practice of comity, in which one state recognizes the laws of another.
The sticky area with same-sex marriage — which one is apt to find with any issue that involves the assertion of a wholly new definition of legal terms — is that the “strong public policy reason not to” derives from the fact that, in Rhode Island, marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. Note the Rhode Island General law respecting marriage licenses:
15-2-1 License required – Proof of divorce. – (a) Persons intending to be joined together in marriage in this state must first obtain a license from the clerk of the town or city in which:
(1) The female party to the proposed marriage resides; or in the city or town in which
(2) The male party resides, if the female party is a nonresident of this state; or in the city or town in which
(3) The proposed marriage is to be performed, if both parties are nonresidents of this state.
If Chief Family Court Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah Jr. decides to grant the divorce, he will have — despite all of the language throughout Rhode Island law proving marriage to be an opposite-sex affair — acknowledged that a marriage can indeed exist when the spouses are of the same sex. Combine such a decision with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling that Rhode Island need not be seen as forbidding same-sex marriages for the purposes of Massachusetts law, and same-sex marriage will have been successfully imported to Rhode Island purely via judicial maneuvering.