Same-sex couple will argue for a divorce in Florida

Tampa, FL -- When Mariama Shaw entered a Hillsborough County courtroom Thursday, she was hoping Judge Laurel M. Lee would grant her a divorce from Keiba Lynn Shaw.

The two women married in Massachusetts in 2010 before moving to Tampa.

The problem: "How would this court have the authority to dissolve a marriage that the laws of our state do not recognize?" Judge Lee asked.

In order to get a divorce in Massachusetts, the couple has been told they must return to that state and live there for a year.

But the attorneys for the two women contend one reason their request should be granted in Florida is because the state's ban on same-sex marriage doesn't specifically prohibit divorce.

"They come to Florida and they're stuck. They are married permanently until they move away, unless the court decides to interpret the law as we have suggested," Ellen Ware, an attorney for Mariama Shaw, said after Thursday's court hearing.

"They're at a point right now where they cannot get divorced, which means that they cannot re-marry... so I'm not sure what you call it, but it's a difficult, difficult situation," added Adam Cordover, an attorney representing Keiba Lynn Shaw.

Judge Lee did not make a ruling Thursday. Instead, she asked the attorneys to return on April 22 and present their arguments at that time.

"The judge clearly has indicated that she is going to give some very thoughtful analysis to this and I know I speak for all of the attorneys and the parties involved, that we appreciate that," Ware said.

Ultimately if the judge does not grant a divorce, the parties involved say they will appeal the decision… taking the case all the way to the Florida Supreme Court if necessary.


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