Same Sex Couple Divorce Request Tossed By Judge

Tuesday, November 25th 2008, 10:29 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- While same-sex couples around the nation fight for the right to marry, in Oklahoma two women want to divorce.  But, on Tuesday a Tulsa County judge threw out their bid to end their marriage.

After a two-year fight, the O'Darling's still are not divorced.  But, some say in the eyes of Oklahoma law, they were never married in the first place.

Cait O'Darling says in court records that she married her partner, Stephanie, in 2003 in Toronto, Canada.  In July of 2006, she filed for divorce in Oklahoma.  It was granted in November, but then reversed seven days later.  Since then, lawyers and judges have fought over whether the state has any jurisdiction in the case, when it doesn't recognize gay marriage.

"You can't have a divorce without a valid marriage and that's the first question the court has to answer," said Austin R. Nimocks with the Alliance Defense Fund.

Austin Nimocks is with the Alliance Defense Fund, a national firm who specializes in traditional family values litigation.  He represents Oklahoma lawmakers.

"The citizens of Oklahoma settled this matter a long time ago in 2004, when they made it clear that marriage is one man and one woman," said Austin R. Nimocks with the Alliance Defense Fund.

O'Darling's attorney argued that the case wasn't about marriage, but property.  And, at the very least the court should void the marriage through an annulment, since under the eyes of the law it wasn't legit anyway.  A judge disagreed, dismissing the petition.

"It really upholds the primary principle that when the citizens of this state speak and put something in their constitution it means something and judges are not going to legislate from the bench," said Austin R. Nimocks with the Alliance Defense Fund.

Cait O'Darling and her attorney did not want to comment, until they had time to digest the ruling.