California marriage laws say alimony ends when a former spouse remarries, and Ron Garber thought that meant he was off the hook when he learned his ex-wife had registered her new relationship under the state's domestic partnership law.Indeed. And now it's affecting straight people, too—oh noes!—so something must surely be done about it immediately. Sigh.
An Orange County judge didn't see it that way. The judge ruled that a registered partnership is cohabitation, not marriage, and that Garber must keep writing the checks, $1,250 a month, to his ex-wife, Melinda Kirkwood. Gerber plans to appeal.
…The alimony ruling shows "the irrationality of having a separate, unequal scheme" for same-sex partners, [Therese Stewart, chief deputy city attorney for San Francisco] said.
Lawyers for a man who believed his domestic partnership was registered with the state of California, only to discover upon separation that his partner never mailed the form, say that he should have the same recourse available to heterosexuals who honestly believe they were validly married, but later discovered they were not.It does happen, very occasionally, that straight people think they're married and actually aren't (or, more frequently, think they're divorced and actually aren't), but I don't really think that's much of an argument for continuing to offer to same-sex couples an arrangement that leaves people in such situations without recourse, because the "putative spouse doctrine" has been ruled inapplicable.
Darrin Ellis is appealing a lower court decision that found since his former partner never filed the domestic partner form he had no right to a share of the couple's communal property.
"Because committed same-sex couples are denied access to marriage, they are left with an inferior, confusing domestic partnership system that allows people like our client to slip through the cracks," said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Tara Borelli.
And note that this is all happening within one state. Imagine when we've got all 50 states in on the act and, thanks to DOMA, none of them have to recognize the other's laws. It's just going to be an embarrassing, ridiculous mess, inevitably so disproportionately complicated in relation to the ease with which it could be solved that it would be laughable if these weren't American citizen's basic fucking rights we're talking about.
Honestly, it's really way beyond time to get this shit sorted out on the federal level.