Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznare
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hundreds of Mormons Leaving Church Over Same-Sex Marriage Stance

From NBC News:

Hundreds of people are formally renouncing their membership in the Mormon church in protest over a new policy that punishes same-sex couples and their children, an attorney assisting them said.

Utah lawyer Mark Naugle, 30, whose family split with the church 15 years ago, is offering his services pro bono to those who want help with the paperwork involved in getting off the rolls — which have 15 million members.

In the week since the policy was announced, 1,700 people have contacted him, he said.  "People are fed up and just don't want their name associated with the church any more," Naugle said.

Salt Lake City realtor Joey Furtado, 42, became a Mormon as a teenager in Brazil and spent two years as a missionary before moving to Utah. But by 2001, he was disillusioned with his adopted faith and stopped attending services. But he said he never bothered to make it official, in part because he worried it would be a hassle.

"I have a friend who sent a resignation letter and months later had members of the church knocking at his door trying to reactivate him," Furtado said.

But after the church's declaration last week, Furtado decided to cut ties for good. "I am not a gay man. I have a girlfriend and two sons, so the policy does not affect me directly, but I have seen families in a situation like this," he said. "I don't want to have anything to do with them anymore ... enough is enough."

Leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn't require legal representation, but Naugle said that his forms simplify the process and he acts a buffer between clients and church leaders who may try to convince them not to leave.

Read more here.

November 16, 2015 in Marriage (impediments), Religion | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mormons Sharpen Stand Against Same-Sex Marriage

From The New York Times:

Children of same-sex couples will not be able to join the Mormon Church until they turn 18 — and only if they move out of their parents’ homes, disavow all same-sex relationships and receive approval from the church’s top leadership as part of a new policy adopted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In addition, Mormons in same-sex marriages will be considered apostates and ordered to undergo church disciplinary hearings that could lead to excommunication, a more rigid approach than the church has taken in the past.

The new policies are an effort by the church, which has long opposed same-sex marriage, to reinforce and even harden its doctrinal boundaries for its members at a time when small but increasing numbers of Mormons are coming out as gay or supportive of same-sex marriage.

At the same time, the church has recently been taking a tolerant public stance supportive of laws that ban discrimination against gay people in employment and housing. Since the Supreme Court established a right to same-sex marriage nationwide in June, Mormon leaders have parted company with the leaders of evangelical and other conservative churches by affirming that despite their religious convictions, even people of faith opposed to gay marriage must follow the law.

“The church is walking a fine line between on the one hand recognizing the reality of changing mores in American society externally, but internally holding the line on its own doctrinal rigor — its own beliefs and teachings,” said David Campbell, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame and a co-author of “Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons and American Politics.”

Read more here.

November 14, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Clerks Must Issue Gay Marriage Licenses, Poll Finds

From U.S. News & World Report:

Linda Massey opposes gay marriage. But she was incensed last summer to see that Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, was refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

"If the government says you have to give out those marriage licenses, and you get paid to do it, you do it," says the 64-year-old retiree from Lewiston, Michigan. "That woman," she said of Davis, "should be out of a job."

Americans like Massey are at the heart of a shift in public opinion, an Associated Press-GfK poll has found. For the first time, most Americans expect government officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even over religious objections.

It's partly a matter of expecting public servants to do their jobs. But more broadly, the issue touches on a familiar dispute over which constitutional value trumps which: religious freedom, or equality under the law?

The question in recent months has entangled leaders with political sway, among them Pope Francis and the 2016 presidential contenders. But it's not a new conflict for a nation that has long wrestled with the separation of church and state.

Where Davis's answer was the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom — and she served jail time to back it up — a majority of respondents don't buy that argument when it comes to public officials issuing marriage licenses. That's a shift since an AP-GfK survey in July, when Americans were about evenly split. Then, 49 percent said officials with religious objections should be exempt from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and 47 percent said they should be required to issue them.

Read more here.

November 8, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Better Marriage is Better for Your Health

From TIME: 

Studies have pretty consistently shown that being married and staying married is better for your health. The married population lives longer and gets less sick. But a new study out of Utah suggests that it’s only really happily married people who get the full benefit.

People often think of marriages as happy or unhappy, but they are rarely so easy to classify. Couples in what the researchers called “ambivalent marriages,” unions that are not bad enough to leave but still have distinctly negative attributes (and no, this is not all marriages—just about 75% of them, says the study), do not get many of the advantages of those whose marriages are very fulfilling, the researchers found.

The study, conducted by Brigham Young University psychology professor Wendy Birmingham, and published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, asked 94 couples about their spouse’s behavior and what the study romantically called their “interpersonal-functioning.” A quarter of the couples were genuinely happy and had no complaints. But three quarters of the marriages fell into the ambivalent category: mostly their spouses were great, but there was some areas in which they were unsupportive or overly negative.

“There was a high level of positivity in the marriage, but there was also negativity,” says Birmingham, who cites the example of a wife who’s a great partner but not happy with her man’s career, or a husband who’s a wonderful dad and lover but very critical. “These are people who are committed to the marriage. There’s just a lot of negativity, which is negating the positive physiological benefits.”

Read more here.

October 24, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

New Movement Aims to Share the Reality of Marriage

From The Washington Times:

A new group called the Marriage Reality Movement aims to help Catholics and others renew the vision of marriage in society.

“It is about formation for the evangelization of culture starting around the family dinner table,” Bill May, president of the California-based group Catholics for the Common Good Institute, told CNA Oct. 6.

“We start by helping people reintroduce marriage to the culture in non-religious language that precisely reflects the teachings of the Church.”

The Marriage Reality Movement launched on Sept. 30 in Philadelphia during the World Meeting of Families. It has a website at

The organization, which is sponsored by the Catholics for the Common Good Institute, aims to build a coalition and promote effective educational materials about marriage.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, the chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, gave the keynote speech at the movement’s launch.

The archbishop said people should look for why marriage exists in nature: “to bring new children into the world and unite the man and woman to each other and to those children they bring into the world.”

Read more here.

October 17, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Alabama Judge Asks State's Supreme Court for a Way Out of Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

From ABC News:

An Alabama probate judge is asking the state's Supreme Court for a way out of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Elmore County Probate Judge John Enslen filed a petition Monday that says the federal government, not state offices, should issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The federal government is responsible for upholding and enforcing other laws created at the federal level and already issues licenses through numerous agencies, Enslen said in the petition.

The petition asks the court to order judges statewide not to issue same-sex marriage licenses or recognize licenses that Enslen says have been issued in contradiction to the Alabama Constitution.

"Born solely from a strained interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, the new same-sex marriage license is a child of the federal government, not the State of Alabama," Enslen wrote in the petition.

Enslen also asks that the Alabama Supreme Court declare it will only recognize same-sex marriage licenses if they have been issued by the federal government or by states that have their own gay marriage laws.

The petition is the second of its kind to be filed with the state's high court, said ACLU-Alabama Executive Director Susan Watson.

Read more here.

October 16, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Study says Baby Before Marriage Doesn't Increase Divorce Risk

From USA Today:

In the past, having a baby before marriage may have spelled divorce if the couple later chose to get married, but times have changed, according to a new report.

Couples who tie the knot after their first baby, now stay together at the same rate as those who were married before their first child, according to research released today by the non-profit group, Council on Contemporary Families.

Researchers analyzed data on women who had their first child between 1985 and 1995 and compared it to those who had their first child between 1997 and 2010. Couples who had a baby first and married later in the earlier period were 60% more likely to divorce than couples who married before they had a child. But a decade later, the cocktail of a baby-first-then-marriage did not raise the couples' risk of divorce, according to thousands of surveys from the CDC's Survey of Family Growth.

The stigma around conceiving before marriage has diminished a lot in the last 25 years, says Pepper Schwartz, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington. Schwartz is not affiliated with the study.

Couples are no longer rushing into a shotgun wedding if they conceive, and instead taking things at their pace, she said.

Read more here.

October 6, 2015 in Divorce (grounds), Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis May Have Invalidated Marriage License Forms

From CNN:

A deputy for Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk of court who went to jail because she opposes same-sex marriage, is worried he's been issuing invalid marriage licenses, according to papers filed in federal court.

When Davis returned to work last Monday, she reiterated her opposition to gay marriage but said she wouldn't prevent her deputies from issuing licenses to such couples -- as long as those documents didn't carry her name or title.

Davis may have gone further than that, the lawyer for deputy Rowan County court clerk Brian Mason said in an update report Friday to a federal judge.

Davis replaced the old marriage license forms with forms that don't carry her name, the name of the county or any reference to a clerk or deputy clerk, said Mason's lawyer, Richard Hughes.

The new forms also require Mason to list his initials, instead of a signature, with a notarization beside the initials, Hughes said.

Read more here.

September 24, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Kentucky Clerk Again Asks for Delay on Gay-Marriage Licenses

From ABC News:

A Kentucky county clerk who was recently jailed for denying same-sex couples marriage licenses filed an appeal Friday that asks for another delay in issuing the licenses.

Attorneys for Kim Davis, who objects to gay marriage on religious grounds, argued in their motion to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that all the same-sex couples who sued Davis for a license received one from her deputies while she was in jail. Therefore, they said, her office should not be required to issue them to any more couples once she returns to work.

U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning wrote that his mandate to issue licenses applied to all couples, not only those who filed suit. But Davis' lawyers allege that order was issued improperly, and again have asked for a delay.

"I hate to use a religious metaphor, given the circumstances," said Sam Marcosson, a constitutional law professor at the University of Louisville, "but this strikes me as a Hail Mary pass."

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit against Davis on behalf of four couples, two straight and two gay, who were denied licenses after the Supreme Court in June effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide. When Davis refused Bunning's order to issue licenses, the judge declared the clerk in contempt of court and jailed her for five days.

In her absence, her deputy clerks issued licenses and both same-sex couples who sued her received one. But Bunning clarified his order to include all eligible couples who request a marriage license.

In the appeal filed Friday, Davis' lawyers, with the Christian law firm Liberty Counsel, argued that Bunning issued the clarification improperly and once again asked the appeals court to delay the mandate that she issue licenses.

 Read more here.

September 20, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Australian Leader, Opposing Gay Marriage, Faces Party and Family Opposition

From The New York Times:

About two-thirds of Australians support same-sex marriage, surveys have found. Many of them are members of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Liberal Party (which is conservative, despite the name) — including his sister, Christine Forster, who is on Sydney’s City Council and is gay.

But Mr. Abbott has staked out an uncompromising position against it. And since the prime minister survived a leadership challenge early this year, the issue has been contributing to renewed discontent within his party.

“I would like to get married,” said Ms. Forster, who has been engaged to her partner, Virginia Edwards, since 2013. “And at this point, I cannot.”

Mr. Abbott, a conservative leader who is a polarizing figure at the best of times, is doing badly in the polls, two years after taking office. His position on same-sex marriage is only one factor, but it is one that analysts say goes to the core of his political vulnerability.

Read more here.

September 11, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Gay-Hating Westboro Church Protests KY Clerk Who Denied Same-Sex Marriages

From NBC News:

Westboro Baptist — the Kansas church known for its virulently anti-gay agenda — has waded into the controversy over the Kentucky court clerk who refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses in defiance of court orders.

But it is taking aim at Kim Davis, who has gone to jail for refusing to allow gay people to marry on the basis that it would violate her Christian beliefs.

Westboro, or WBC, is notorious and widely scorned for picketing funerals for service members of victims and mass shootings to draw attention to its "God Hates Fags" argument that God is punishing America for accommodating homosexuality.

Referring to Jeremiah 3:20 — the King James version of which reads, "Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD" — WBC undertook a P.R. campaign over the weekend, attacking the thrice-divorced (and legally remarried) Kim Davis in a string of Tweets and YouTube videos as an "oath breaker" and a "lawbreaker" — meaning, of course, God's law.

Read more here.

September 10, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Kentucky Clerk Appeals Contempt of Court Ruling Over Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

From CNN:

Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who's refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses, has appealed the contempt of court ruling that landed her in jail last week, according to court documents obtained by CNN.

"While most Americans are enjoying the extended holiday weekend with family and friends, Kim Davis sits in isolation for the fourth day in jail," her attorney, Mat Staver, said in a statement Sunday. "We are working through the holiday to secure Kim's freedom."

Davis had refused to give licenses to same-sex couples after June's Supreme Court decision on grounds that issuing the licenses would violate her Christian convictions against same-sex marriage.

A federal judge ordered her to jail Thursday, ruling she was in contempt of court for refusing to issue the licenses and not allowing her deputies to distribute them for her.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning said Davis would remain behind bars until she complies. Five of her deputies agreed Thursday to issue marriage licenses in her absence and the Rowan County Clerk's Office began doing so the following day.

Read more here.

September 9, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Supreme Court to Act on Kentucky Gay Marriage Fight

From NBC News:

The U.S. Supreme Court this week faces the first religious objection to reach the justices since the decision declaring a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

A county clerk in Kentucky is asking for relief from a lower court order directing her to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Her lawyers filed an emergency application directed to Justice Elena Kagan, who handles such requests from that part of the country.

Kim Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, "holds an undisputed sincerely held religious belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, only," her lawyers say in their application.

The requirement to issue same-sex marriage licenses "demands that she either fall in line (her conscience be damned) or leave office (her livelihood and job for three-decades in the clerk's office be damned)."

Read more here.

September 2, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Child Marriage is as Popular as ever in Bangladesh

From The Washington Post:

On her wedding day, 15-year- old Nasoin Akhter looked “melancholic,” according to photographer Allison Joyce, who documented the teenage girl’s wedding to her 32-year-old husband, Mohammad Hasamur Rahman, last week in Manikganj, Bangladesh.

“It’s tradition for the bride to look shy and coy during the wedding,” Joyce told The Washington Post in an e-mail. “But I noticed this sadness and unspoken fear and uncertainty even when she was in her room with her friends before the ceremony or at the parlor with her sister (who was also married around the same age). She was withdrawn and quiet. ”

Although Nasoin Akhter’s marriage is technically illegal in Bangladesh, laws against child marriage are rarely enforced. And despite what government officials promise and the fact that outside organizations consider it a human-rights violation, the practice remains popular in Bangladesh. According to a report published in June by Human Rights Watch, the country has the fourth-highest rate of child marriage in the world, with 29 percent of Bangladeshi girls married before the age of 15, and 65 percent before the age of 18.

Read more here.

August 31, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Kentucky Clerk Given Time For Gay Marriage Appeal by Federal Judge

From ABC News:

A federal judge on Monday gave a Kentucky county clerk room to continue denying marriage licenses to gays and lesbians while she takes her religious objections case to a higher court.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis last week to issue licenses to two gay couples, and ruled Monday that she is not entitled to any more delays. But because "emotions are running high on both sides of this debate," he also stayed his decision while she takes her case to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal.

Attorneys on both sides disagreed about the implications. Dan Canon, representing the gay couples, said Davis remains under the judge's order. But Mat Staver, who represents Davis and is the founder of Florida-based Liberty Counsel, said the convoluted order essentially grants her request for more time.

What is clear is that Davis will continue refusing to issue marriage licenses to anyone in this county of about 23,000 people, home to Morehead State University in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Kentucky. Until the case is resolved, no new wedding can be legally recognized in Rowan County unless the couple obtains a marriage license somewhere else.

Read more here.

August 18, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Mother, Daughter Sentenced to Years in Federal Prison for Committing Marriage Fraud

From Dallas Morning News:

In January 2014 nine people were indicted on 10 counts, chief among them: “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States” and “Conspiracy to Commit Marriage Fraud.”

That lengthy indictment, which is below, lays out a complex, decades-long scheme involving a 61-year-old mother, her 32-year-old daughter, seven other family members, phony immigration documents, counterfeit birth certificates, fraudulent tax returns and identity theft. The operation was undone in 2010 by an undercover government agent in Dallas “posing as an illegal alien” in need of a phony immigration application, according to the indictment.

The mother, Frances Sandoval, and her daughter Monica Morena pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with immigration documents and aggravated identity theft. Just yesterday, Sandoval was sentenced to 65 months in federal prison; she must also forfeit $45,850. Morena’s sentence handed down Wednesday in Dallas federal court is shorter (48 months), and her financial penalty is smaller ($21,710).

Read more here.

August 8, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Evangelicals Say Fight Against Same-Sex Marriage Not Over

From CNN:

Despite the Supreme Court decision in June that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, leading evangelicals vowed this week that the fight to keep marriage between a man and a woman is not over.

"In mandating same-sex marriage for all 50 states, the Supreme Court didn't just get marriage wrong, it got government wrong," Jennifer Marshall, a vice president of the Heritage Foundation, a D.C.-based conservative think tank, told a gathering of evangelicals in Nashville on Wednesday.

Leading Christian and political conservatives met at the Gospel and Politics: The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission National Conference. The group is the political and policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant Christian group in the country.

The conference was the second one this week by the Christian group. Leader Russell Moore interviewed presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio at a missions conference Tuesday.

Moore previously told CNN that the fight to reverse the Supreme Court's recent ruling will be a long one.

Read more here.


August 7, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Virginia Man Arrested for Bigamy


A Henrico man was charged with two counts of bigamy after his wife found out her husband had not divorced his previous wife before they got married. In fact, Frank Ernest Blake, Jr., 32, has been married three times without ever legally divorcing the women he married, police said.

Blake was charged with two counts of bigamy and two counts of forgery. Police said Blake forged two marriage licenses.

From behind bars, Blake explained that he has had three different marriages. The first one in 2001 lasted several years. He said his wife then filed for divorce.

“I got papers in the mail saying we were divorced, but evidently you get two sets of papers. I signed my name and everything on it” Blake said.

He said he didn’t think he had to get something annulled if it “wasn’t even real.”

Read more here.

August 3, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Lawmaker Ready to Introduce Legislation to Stop Same-Sex Marriage in Tennessee


A state lawmaker is ready to introduce legislation, if need be, to stop marriage licenses from being issued across the state, all because of the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

State Rep. Rick Womick (R), of Rutherford County, is ready for war.

“If we don’t stand up and say no to these five Supreme Court Justices, we no longer have a constitutional republic; we are an oligarchy,” Womick said.

He said he’ll continue his fight, even if it means getting out of the marriage business.

“If you don’t want to uphold our sovereignty, then let’s just go ahead and get out of the marriage business and no longer issue marriage certificates,” Womick said. “We won’t issue any marriage license to anybody.”

Read more here.

August 1, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Why America's Small Businesses Aren't Cheering Same-Sex Marriage

From Forbes:

While many across corporate America cheered the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling supporting same-sex marriage, small businesses have legal room to interpret the law a different way.

While large companies like Coca-Cola, Tide, American Airlines, and Kellogg Company hailed last month’s Supreme Court’s pro-marriage equality verdict, posting heart-infused Tweets and rainbow-laden ads on the Internet, not all have been celebrating. Small businesses, particularly in the wedding industry, are likely to lament the landmark decision in the name of religion. Think the baker. The florist. The photographer. The stationery maker. The wedding singer. Because the products they sell are arguably expressive and an artistic creation that communicates a message, the law may be on their side.

Read more here.

July 20, 2015 in Marriage (impediments), Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)