MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A South Florida lesbian who wants to get married to her new partner needs a divorce from her former partner. However, she can’t be located and because Florida is constitutionally banned from recognizing the relationship, she can’t get divorced.
Heather Brassner and her spouse, Megan Lade, were united in a civil union in Vermont in 2002 two years before the first gay and lesbian couples in the United States were allowed to marry in Massachusetts, and seven years before gay-marriage became legal in Vermont.
Brassner, 41, told CBS4’s news partner, The Miami Herald, Lade cheated on her four-years ago and has since disappeared.
She is now left stuck in the civil union because Vermont must have both women sign to dissolve the union and Lade can’t be located. According to the divorce filing, the Petitioner and even a private investigator have failed to located Lade.
Brassner is taking the case to Broward Circuit Court judge who she hopes will be the third in South Florida to declare the 2008 gay-marriage ban unconstitutional and grant her a divorce.
Broward Circuit Judge Dale Cohen is expected to rule on the case August 4, 2014 at 1:30 p.m.
Brassner expects Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to appeal the case if the judge rules the ban is unconstitutional just as she has in the past two right-to-marry victories in July by same-sex couples in Monroe and Miami-Dade counties.
Monroe Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia ruled Florida’s gay-marriage ban unconstitutional on July 17 and said Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones of Key West could marry.
A little more than a week later, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel ruled six same-sex couples in South Florida also had the right to marry.
The decisions are only valid in the counties where the rulings were made. Both are on hold pending Bondi’s appeal.
If Judge Cohen rules in favor of Brassner, the judge would be the first in Florida to recognize an out-of-state marriage or civil union.
However, even if the case goes in Brassner’s favor, her attorney said the judge said the attorney general would be given a chance to appeal.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)
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