By Mike Stetzer
In 2003, Julie and Hillary Goodridge were among seven gay couples in Massachusetts that sued for the right to marry. The lawsuit led to the historic court ruling legalizing gay marriage in the state. Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.
The Goodridges' lawsuit against the state, which argued for equal marriage rights regardless of sexual orientation, went to the Massachusetts Supreme Court. In Nov. 2003, in a 4-3 decision, the state's highest court ruled that it was unconstitutional to allow only heterosexual couples to marry. On Feb. 4, 2004, the court confirmed its ruling, saying only full marriage rights for gay couples, not civil unions, would conform to the state's constitution.
According to CNN, President Bush called the ruling "deeply troubling" and said, "If activist judges insist on re-defining marriage by court order, the only alternative will be the constitutional process. We must do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage."
The Massachusetts Family Institute, a public policy group, fought to repeal the legalization of gay marriage in the state.
Despite all the adversity, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for same-sex marriages. In May 2004, the Goodridges became the first same-sex couple in the country to marry. They tied the knot in Massachusetts on the first day gay marriage became legal, reported WCVB Channel 5 Boston.
In July 2006, the first same-sex couple to legally marry announced they were separating. Last week the couple filed for divorce in Suffolk Probate and Family Court, according to The Associated Press. The women share custody of their 12-year-old daughter.
After the California Supreme Court struck down the ban on same-sex marriage in the state on May 15, 2008, gay couples flooded courthouses to obtain marriage licenses. According to WorldNetDaily, Theresa Ramirez and Adelita Guajardo of Fresno County, Calif. were one of the couples to marry shortly after the ban was lifted. They filed for divorce just three days later, citing "irreconcilable differences."
The divorce process for gay couples in states that allow same-sex marriages may be the same as it is for heterosexual couples; however, if a gay couple moves to a state that does not allow gay marriage, getting divorced may be troublesome.
The Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled in Dec. 2007 that same-sex couples who married in Massachusetts could not legally divorce in Rhode Island, because the state's family court did not have authority over same-sex marriages, reported Reuters.