A North Carolina Court has ruled that a gay woman has a right to petition the court for equity, spousal support, alimony and property division just like any other couple getting divorced even though the woman did not have a traditional heterosexual marriage. Instead, she was involved in a gay relationship with another woman for nearly 40 years without the benefit of a traditional marriage. However, as reasoned by the South Carolina court, the fact that the US Supreme Court ruled that the ban on same sex marriages is unconstitutional a few year ago, it is as if same sex couples’ marriages were NEVER illegal under American jurisprudence.
What that means is that in this particular case in South Carolina, a common law state, the court found that the couple had been married pursuant to the common law all these years (40 years in fact). Thus, the court ruled that the woman would be able to get her equitable distribution from her same sex spouse even though her partner testified that she never had any intention of being married to her. It should be noted that the two women not only lived together, they shared joint bank accounts and also had bought several pieces of real estate together over the years and their own children testified that the two were like any other married couple.
The legal community across the country is slack jawed because this type of retroactive application of the Supreme Court decision has never been seen before this. And there is some question whether it can survive a legal challenge. But people in the gay community are very happy with this ruling and they feel it is vindication for all the years they have been “left in the cold.”
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