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Politics & Government

From House Democrat, A Call For Divorce Equality

It turns out that legally ending a same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania is just as impossible as legally entering one.

In a co-sponsorship memo floated last week, Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh) said he plans to fix what he called “the marriage trap” — a limbo land reserved for same-sex couples who, after marrying in one of the 17 states (or the District of Columbia), move to Pennsylvania, decide to split up, and can’t legally end the union.

When it comes to equality, advocates say, divorce is almost as central as marriage — and it’s unattainable for same-sex couples who don’t first move back to the states where they were married.

“In order for someone to obtain the legal and the financial and the emotional closure that they are seeking and clearly they deserve when a marriage ends, they have to pick up and move their entire life,” said Schlossberg.

According to the Morning Call, four states waive residency requirements for the sake of divorce.

Ted Martin, director of LGBT advocacy group EqualityPA, calls the problem “a weird quirk of the law.”

“Our stance is, if you want to make this a non-issue, grant marriage equality,” Martin said. “That’s a serious issue. This is just a part of it.”

Schlossberg said his proposal is meant to start a conversation, not to spur any immediate impact.

“I have a very difficult time imagining it does stand a chance in the near future,” he said.

Pennsylvania could conceivably recognize same-sex divorces without legalizing the marriages — a judge in Wyoming ruled that granting such a divorce does not make the marriage legal.

Gov. Tom Corbett does not support same-sex marriage. A spokesman said he won’t comment on the measure until it’s introduced in the House.