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Maryland’s Highest Court Hears Lesbian Divorce Case

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—The struggle by same-sex couples to tie the knot is proving just as difficult to untie for one lesbian couple.

Alex DeMetrick reports their quest to divorce reached Maryland’s high court Thursday.

Maryland may have a same-sex marriage law on the books. But it doesn’t take effect until 2013, and a Maryland lower court ruled Jessica Port and her partner cannot divorce if they weren’t married here.

“I live in Maryland. I pay taxes in Maryland. I work in Maryland. I have every right to get a divorce in a timely manner like any other couple,” Port said.

Port and her partner Virginia Cowan married in California while it was legal.

Cowan too wants a divorce.

“Our client is very much committed to ending a marriage and having the ability to move on,” said Susan Sommer, Cowan’s lawyer.

That plea was made to Maryland’s Court of Appeals. The argument: people married in other states get divorced all the time in Maryland. So why not Port and Cowan?

“It would lock these parties into a marriage that is irretrievably broken.  The court would for the first time be saying you can enter into a marriage, but you can’t exit it,” said Shannon Minter, Port’s lawyer.

That leaves Maryland’s highest court to decide if same-sex marriages and licenses from other states can be legally dissolved here.

The Court of Appeals gave no indication of when they might rule on the same-sex divorce case.

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