On the 6th of October this year, same sex marriages became legal in the state of Oklahoma. Since then many same-sex couples have decided to tie the knot in Oklahoma, and now the state can also boast of having same-sex divorce for those couples who may not want to remain together anymore.
An Oklahoma County special judge granted a divorce on October 15th to a same-sex couple―Deanne R. Baker and Julie L. Baker, creating history in the state’s fight for same-sex rights and equality. The two women were married in Iowa in July 2012 when the state of Oklahoma did not recognize same-sex marriages (Iowa on the other hand has been open to the idea of gay marriage since 2009). After two years of marriage, the couple decided to file for divorce in their home state. That was 2011.
Divorced for 24 Hours
In August of this year, Oklahoma County Special Judge Don Andrews signed the papers granting the couple their wish for separation. But within 24 hours, the decision had been vacated. Divorce attorneys say that the judge based his decision to nullify the divorce decree on a 1997 law that prohibited the state of Oklahoma from recognizing same-sex marriages conducted in other states. Basically, since the state of Oklahoma did not recognize the Baker’s marriage as it was conducted in Iowa, the court had no direct power to grant them a divorce.
Waiting for Change
Deanne Baker says that it was a hard time waiting for the law to change its course and become gay friendly. No place is really that gay friendly though. The federal divorce attorney she met at that time made her feel like she may have to wait years before her case could be heard again and a proper resolution granted. Why did this married couple not think of this beforehand? The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional and the state laws had to change to accommodate couples like the Bakers.
Even though the US Supreme Court had announced that they would not be hearing any appeals, Deanne decided to re-file her case and this time, it went through!
Just months after her first divorce appeal was struck down, the same court was now not only recognizing her marriage but also giving her the right to end it of her own accord. On October 15th, the Bakers finally had what they had waited years for to happen.
Equality is for All
The Baker’s fight for equality in divorce rights made national news, but Deanne says the couple was never out for publicity or to win a rat-race of any sort. She hopes that her divorce will pave a way for better treatment of her contemporaries by the courts in the state and that it will throw light on the issues of gay marriage rights.
At the end of the day, Deanne says that a gay couple is just like any other heterosexual couple and the law should not deprive them of the right to start or end a marriage. But many other people disagree with Deanne’s viewpoint on this matter.