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Same-Sex Couples In Maryland Now Have 'Divorce Equality'

Same-Sex Couples In Maryland Now Have 'Divorce Equality'

A new legal opinion issued by Maryland's Attorney General clears up a murky area of state law according to the Baltimore Sun. Cheating by same-sex spouses can now be considered adultery and is grounds for divorce.

Same-sex marriages have been legal in the state since 2013. Since marriage equality became a reality, the state's divorce rate has steadily dropped each year. Same-sex divorces are not tracked separately in Maryland.

"Extramarital sexual activity with someone of the same sex is just as damaging to a marriage as sexual activity with someone of the opposite sex," Attorney General Brian E. Frosh wrote. Therefore, the state should "recognize that sexual infidelity is a breach of the marriage vow and causes damage to the marriage, such that the injured party should be allowed to dissolve the marriage more easily than would otherwise be the case."

"We're pleased by it. It's an example that equality means equality," Jer Welter, deputy director and managing attorney for FreeState Legal, told the Sun. The opinion is "an affirmation that Maryland will equally recognize the dignity of marriages between same sex couples."

Under Maryland law, couples who seek a no-fault divorce have to live separately for 12 months prior to filing for divorce. "Fault" divorces are also granted for desertion, insanity, and conviction of a serious crime. A new law that will take effect in October will allow married couples without children to divorce without waiting the 12 months.

Maryland law still classifies adultery as a misdemeanor crime and has been recognized under Maryland law since 1650. The criminal law has not been enforced for a long time. At one point Maryland's divorce laws only defined adultery as sex between a married woman and a man who is not her husband.

An aggrieved partner does not have to prove that their spouse had actual intercourse with someone else, only that they had the "inclination" and "opportunity" to do so.

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