READING, Pa. — A Pennsylvania judge has refused to divorce two women married last year in Massachusetts, leaving them in apparent limbo because they do not meet the residency required to divorce in the Bay State.
Berks County Judge Scott Lash said he could not grant a divorce to Carole Ann Kern and Robin Lynn Taney because their marriage is not recognized under Pennsylvania law. “Relief under the divorce code can only be obtained by parties who are recognized to be married,’’ Lash wrote in a ruling.
Kern, a Berks County resident, had filed a petition in October seeking to divorce Taney. The pair had married four months earlier in Brewster, Mass.
Massachusetts law has no residence requirement to marry, but requires couples seeking to divorce to have lived there for a year, a requirement they did not meet.
Gay couples seeking to divorce face a tangle of state laws on the subject.
Like Pennsylvania, Rhode Island bans both same-sex marriage and same-sex divorce.
New York and New Jersey, on the other hand, ban same-sex marriage but grant divorces to such couples. Despite objections from New Jersey’s state attorney general, a judge there approved a same-sex divorce on grounds the state accepts virtually all out-of-state marriages.
In Texas, Attorney General Greg Abbott last month intervened to block a divorce granted by a district judge to two women who had also married in Massachusetts.
Pennsylvania’s Marriage Law includes a section that explicitly states that same-sex marriages performed elsewhere are void in the commonwealth.