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Same Sex Union - The Defense of Marriage Act
Connecticut's same sex union law does NOT put same sex couples in the same legal status as traditional married couples. One significant problem is that the ability to divorce is the right of a partner in a traditional marriage, no matter neither where the marriage took place nor where the parties reside.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has the unfortunate result that a same sex couple joined together in one state may be unable to dissolve their union, no matter how inappropriate the relationship. Connecticut will provide a civil union for a couple whether or not they reside here but can only dissolve the union when one of the parties has resided here for a year prior to the dissolution. For example, after forming their union here, a couple relocates to Virginia (a state that, under right of the DOMA, refuses to recognize Connecticut's same sex union) will find later that they cannot dissolve their union. Virginia will not dissolve it because Virginia does not recognize the union in the first place. Connecticut cannot dissolve it because neither party lives here.
Connecticut, in its zeal to enact legislation to enable same-sex couples to enjoy the benefits of marriage, may have done a disservice to the very people it was trying to help. Knowing a Connecticut union may not be recognized elsewhere, it was incumbent upon the legislature to provide a method for dissolving a union it created for out of state couples. It failed to do so.
In Connecticut, grounds for divorce may be no-fault, which means irreconcilable differences, or the traditional fault grounds of adultery, fraud, intolerable cruelty, imprisonment, confinement due to mental illness, and living separately for 18 months.
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