Only two hours before the first same-sex wedding in New Orleans was performed under last week’s SCOTUS decision declaring same-sex marriage a fundamental right under the Constitution, a New Orleans couple was divorced under the same ruling.
First Same-Sex Divorce Precedes First Same-Sex Marriage in New Orleans
New Orleans residents Anna Wellman and Stephanie Baus, whose nuptials took place in Massachusetts during 2009 amid much media attention and fanfare, divorced quietly in Orleans Parish Civil District Court on Friday, June 26.
Speaking of the ground-breaking divorce, Judge Paulette Irons remarked, “My responsibility is to uphold not just the laws of the state of Louisiana, but the laws of the United States and the Constitution. After the Supreme Court ruled, that’s the end of the road for me.”
Before last Friday’s landmark ruling, Wellman and Baus would have had to establish residency in one of the 37 states that permitted legal same-sex marriage (such as Massachusetts)—a process that could have delayed their impending divorce for nearly a year.
The couple’s attorney, Mitch Hoffman, speaking of New Orleans’ first same-sex divorce preceding its first same-sex marriage said, “We were there earlier than the people who got married, I guess. It wasn’t a race. They want to move forward and on. That’s all.”
Signing their marriage certificate at 12:50 p.m., Michael Robinson and Earl Benjamin became Louisiana’s first same-sex couple to be married under the historic SCOTUS ruling. “This momentous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court brings many new issues with it,”said Christine Remy (JD), a family lawyer and partner at the Remy Law Firm in New Orleans. “In Louisiana, we will need the legislature to clarify issues, such as community property, support, custody, etc. However, until we have new legislation, the Judgment of Divorce itself can be obtained in accordance with existing law.”
The landmark decision was supported by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. Delivering the majority opinion for the Court, Justice Kennedy stated that the right to marry was a fundamental right under the Constitution from which gay couples could not be excluded, writing, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.”
Supporters of the new ruling showed their enthusiasm by coming out in record numbers to watch New York City’s annual pride parade held last Friday, and by altering their Facebook profile pictures using a rainbow filter resembling the pride flag. According to CNN, more than 26 million people changed their profile picture, and the feature received more than half a billion likes during the first three days of its launch.
Voicing their opposition to the ruling, Right Wing News created its own app which allows users to filter their Facebook profile pictures through an image of the American flag.
Stacey Freeman is a digitally published writer and blogger focusing on all aspects of divorce, single parenting, relationships and dating. Posts from her popular blog, penned under pseudonym, have repeatedly appeared online in national publications including the Huffington Post, The Stir, MariaShriver.com and Daily Plate of Crazy. Writing under her given name, Stacey is also a Huffington Post Divorce blogger and a contributing writer to EXaholics.com.
After working briefly in the fashion industry, Stacey took time off from career to raise her family. A divorce “survivor” and mother to now three school-age children, Stacey is responsible for overseeing daily editorial content, the editorial calendar and featured content, as well as the continuous search for new and talented writers for DivorcedMoms.com.