One of the questions many of us were asking after the United States Supreme Court issued its landmark marriage equality decision this past summer was whether there would also be nationwide access to divorce for same-sex couples. To most of us it was obvious that if the marriages were all valid, divorce should be a logical outcome of that ruling. But there were concerns – mostly in the realm of politics, but also when it comes to how the Supreme Court ruling is interpreted. If it were seen as retroactive, as most constitutional rulings are, then there would be no question as to the validity of the prior marriages. But if the ruling was seen as only prospective, some narrow-minded judges might contend that the earlier marriages somehow shouldn’t be recognized, thus leading to a refusal to grant a divorce.
The good news this week is that even Mississippi, known as one of the most conservative states when it comes to gay rights, is allowing same-sex couples to dissolve their out-of-state marriages in their home state. The court’s ruling (linked below) managed to avoid reaching any principled discussion of the issue, instead relying on the state’s attorney general’s prudent decision to drop any opposition to the divorce, post-Obergefell. And it’s disturbing to read that a few of the court’s justices questioned whether the United States Supreme Court’s ruling was binding on them. But the outcome is what counts, and it’s a positive ruling when it comes to equal access to divorce for same-sex couples.