The Gay Divorcee, No, not the 1934 Astaire-Rogers Movie

Statistics from The Williams Institute

One of my favorite comediennes and television stars lesbian Jane Lynch, aka Sue Sylvester, the caustic cheerleading coach on the popular GLEE television show, filed for divorce on July 13, 2013. Lynch, who has won Emmy, Golden Globe, and People’s Choice Awards, married in May 2010 psychologist Lara Embry who has a child. A wonderful actress, Lynch has had several recurring guest roles as Charlie Harper’s psychologist in Two and a Half Men. She played a lesbian in the hilarious mockdocumentary “Best in Show” as well as in the “L” Word.”

How Many Other LGBTS Are Getting Divorced?

With gay marriage is so much in the news, especially since the June Supreme Court ruling last June, you wonder how many average Joes and Janes have filed for divorce? To find out, I turned to a reliable source: The Williams Institute, a gay-legal think tank located at UCLA – Los Angeles Study of Divorce and Marriage Rates for Same-Sex Couples.

Williams Institute Findings on Divorce
Although the study by M.V. Lee Badgett and Jody L. Herman is dated almost two years ago when same-sex marriage was legalized in only six states (as opposed to thirteen plus the District of Columbia currently), the authors found that:

• The data shows that same-sex couples marry at much higher rates than they enter civil unions or other legal statuses.
• When a state allows marriage for same-sex couples, over 60% of those who marry come from other states.
• The divorce rate for same-sex couples in legal unions is about 1.1 percent as opposed to 2% of married different-sex couples divorce.
Researchers concluded that the lower divorce rate may be owing to the fact that gay couples tend to have been together for longer periods of time, and have “weathered the stormy middle years of coupledom.” The LGBT persons have consciously committed to being a family, according to Badgett and Herman, lawyers.

Limited Data Available

As gay marriage is so new, and not every state has legalized same-sex marriage, it is difficult to gather statistics. The Massachusetts Health Department, says “there is no gender field on a divorce certificate in Massachusetts,” the first state to legal gay marriage. Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate at 2.2 per 1,000 married couples. Generally, the divorce rate is 20% lower in states where gay marriage is legal. In Nevada, where gay marriage is not legal, the divorce rate is the highest.

“It’s Complicated”

According to Susan Somer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal which litigates on behalf of gay rights, most states won’t grant divorces for same-sex unions formed in other states. It gets exceedingly complicated if, for example, a same-sex couple moved to a new state, splits, can’t get a divorce, and one of the partners wants to re-marry someone of the opposite sex in a new state.

While no one wants to walk down the aisle with divorce in mind, attorneys say the smartest thing is to plan for a possible divorce in the state in which you live.

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