Judge To Take Second Look At Divorce Granted To Same-Sex Couple

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The divorce of a same-sex couple was finalized Tuesday in Athens County Common Pleas Court, but Judge George McCarthy said a hearing will be held on whether the ruling should be vacated.

"I didn't recognize it was a same-sex divorce coming through," said McCarthy, who signed an entry adopting the recommendation of Magistrate Melinda Bradford that the divorce be granted.

According to court documents, Brenda Mohney of Nelsonville and Erin O'Leary of Athens were married in 2008 in California. Last July, Mohney filed for divorce in Athens County Common Pleas Court.

On Nov. 4, Bradford held a hearing at which Mohney was present but not O'Leary. That same day, Bradford filed her decision recommending that Mohney be granted a divorce on grounds of incompatibility. McCarthy filed an entry Tuesday adopting Bradford's recommendation.

McCarthy pointed out to The Messenger that Bradford's decision and recommendation were issued two days before the federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Ohio's right not to recognize same-sex marriage.

According to McCarthy, a few other Ohio courts had previously granted divorce to same-sex couples in a few cases.

In its coverage of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, the Associated Press reported that the Sixth Circuit ruled 2-1 that states have a right to set rules for marriage. Among the several cases the Sixth Circuit had before it were two Ohio cases. The Sixth Circuit ruling ran counter to recent decisions by four other federal appeals courts in other regions of the country that states cannot ban same-sex marriage.

McCarthy said the issue he now faces is whether it was legal for him to grant a divorce when Ohio does not recognize the couple's marriage in California.

"That's what I am reviewing," McCarthy said.

He said he expects a hearing will be scheduled in the next two to three weeks.