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Same-sex couple seeks Utah divorce in wake of court ruling


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SALT LAKE CITY — Not only are same-sex couples getting married in Utah after a federal court ruling struck down Utah's law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, but now gay couples are now filing for divorce — something they couldn't do previously in the state.

"I had to remain in this relationship that I didn't want to — and no one should have to endure that," said Astrid Marquez, who is now involved in a divorce filing.

The 14-year Utah resident legally married her wife in Connecticut in 2010, but 10 months later the couple knew it wasn't meant to be.

"We separated," Marquez said. "We had a house together. She kept the residence. I moved."

Marquez soon learned, though, she couldn't get a divorce in Utah. State courts have previously not granted divorces to gay couples because they couldn't do so for marriages the state didn't legally recognize. No legal marriage in Utah meant no legal divorce.

She faced the prospects all divorcing same-sex marriage partners faced in Utah at that time — either simply separate, or move to a state that recognized the marriage, establish residency for as long as a year, and then file for divorce.

The latter option was too costly and wasn't realistic.

"It was really frustrating. It was also very hard because I couldn't really move on," she said. "How do you say, I'm married, but not really? I'm divorced, but not really?"

Family law attorney, Wade Taylor, said the ruling from Judge Robert Shelby will make a significant difference for people in Marquez' shoes.

"They were in this legal limbo where they're just stuck in this marriage that they don't want to be in anymore," Taylor said. "There's no reason to believe that they shouldn't have the right to be divorced."

Taylor is currently involved in two same-sex divorce filings including Marquez' and doesn't anticipate trouble getting a divorce granted now, since the state is issuing marriage licenses to same sex partners.

He predicts a "boom" eventually in same-sex divorces.

"We already have several filed in the 3rd District here in Salt Lake that are same sex couples seeking a divorce and I would imagine that some of these couples — the thousand or so couples that got married recently when the ruling came out — they're going to have issues just like any other couple does," Taylor said.

Marquez said she simply hopes for the same rights afforded to others.

"It's sad that human beings are being deprived of these rights and I, myself — like I said — I had to remain in this relationship that I didn't want," Marquez said. "No one should have to endure that."

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Andrew Adams

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