Gay couples married in other states unable to divorce in Florida

Couples' marriages are not recognized under state law

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – At least two gay couples who were legally married in other states are being told they can't divorce in Florida because their marriages aren't recognized under state law, but at least one of the people impacted said if you are against gay marriage, you ought to be for gay divorce.

Rather than argue that not allowing the divorce is unconstitutional, state employee Maria Mathu's lawyer is arguing the U.S. Constitution requires states to honor the laws of other states, including marriage certificates.

Mathu met her spouse in college and 13 years later they were legally married in New York.

"We got married on 12-12-12. The courthouse was very busy. It was exciting," said Mathu.

But 16 months later, the love soured. Now courts are saying the couple can't divorce in Florida. Going back to New York isn't practical because divorces there require a year's residency. The couple has split but is looking for closure.

"These laws that prohibit me from getting divorced are negatively affecting my life," said Mathu.

"How has it been negative?" asked reporter Mike Vasilinda.

"Just in that lack of closure that I can't fully move on. That it's still a lingering part of who I am," Mathu said. "If I were to get involved in another relationship, I'm still married."

Florida's Supreme Court has already refused to expedite a divorce case for a gay Tampa couple, but in the decision is the reference to the U.S. Constitution's full faith and credit clause.

The Constitution said full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state.

"It's a legal marriage in New York," said Rob McNeeley, Mathu's attorney. "For Florida not to recognize that, we think just a straight black letter law violation of the full faith and credit clause."