City hall refuses to grant divorce to gay couple married in NYC | New York Post
City Hall wooed a gay Polish couple to Manhattan to marry them when their own country wouldn’t, then later balked at granting them a divorce — arguing they weren’t Big Apple “residents!’’
The wedded diss was finally overturned Tuesday by a Manhattan Supreme Court judge in a precedent-setting ruling.
It’s a case of “basic fairness and simple justice,’’ wrote Justice Matthew Cooper in his decision.
The couple started off their married life without a hitch when they “accepted New York’s invitation to come here” and wed in December 2013, according to the ruling.
The two grooms, Andrzej Gruszczynski and Wiktor Jerzy Twarkowski of Warsaw, Poland, were taking advantage of the first year of the Bloomberg administration’s “NYC I Do” campaign, which encouraged gay tourists to come to the city to marry if they were banned elsewhere.
The men wore matching smiles — and outfits of blue jeans and white button-down shirts — when they exchanged vows before the city clerk at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau.
The 30-something newlyweds then flew home to Poland, which still doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, a few days later.
But by September 2016, the union soured.
“They just stopped loving each other,” their lawyer, Livius Ilasz, told The Post.
Judge Cooper noted that, “unfortunately, the fate of same-sex married couples is no different from that of heterosexual ones: All too often people who marry in love end up at some later point falling out of love.’’
The men filed an uncontested divorce proceeding in Manhattan, usually a rubber-stamp case for couples who are not fighting over custody or assets.
But they learned the literal meaning of “wedlock” when a clerk wrote a note on their case: “Cannot file in NYS. Both parties reside in Poland. Residency requirement not met.”
So the unhappy couple asked a judge to intervene.
Cooper ruled that since the city married the men, it also must provide them the right to altar their state.
“Having accepted New York’s invitation to come and exercise their right to marry as a same sex couple, the parties now find that they are being deprived of the equally fundamental right to end the marriage,” he wrote.
“They stress that if New York refuses to entertain the proceeding, they will face the prospect of being unable to find any forum in which they can be divorced.”
Ilasz explained why his clients needed the divorce, even if their home country didn’t recognize their marriage in the first place.
“They are an international couple. The fact that Poland doesn’t recognize [their union] doesn’t mean they aren’t legally married everywhere else,’’ the lawyer said.
“Poland is part of European Union. Within the EU, there are countries where gay marriage is recognized. If you live in, let’s say Germany, there might be a claim based on the marriage by one of the guys against the other one.”
“Judge Cooper set precedent by waiving the residency requirement and granting the divorce in this case.”
The lawyer predicted that the ruling may “spark reforms in conservative European countries to at least recognize [gay people’s] rights” to marry and divorce.
Susan Sommer, a director with the LGBT group Lamda Legal, hailed the judge for recognizing that “to give the dignity of marriage its fullest meaning you have to provide a means for a couple to part ways through divorce.”
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Republished by the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A.