Heather Brassner is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
On July 6, 2002, she entered into a civil union with her then partner Megan Lade in Vermont. At the time, civil unions were legal, but no same-sex marriage was possible. Vermont didn’t officially recognize same-sex marriage until seven years later.
Now, 41-year-old Brassner is ready to dissolve her civil union with Megan. Why? Megan cheated on her (marital infidelity) and has now disappeared. According to civil union law in Vermont, Brassner and Lade cannot have a legal dissolution of their civil union unless both partners sign papers to officially terminate the union. However, Lade is nowhere to be found – with Brassner stuck in a civil union she can’t participate in (as a couple) because she has no one with whom to be in the current relationship.
And, to make matters worse, Brassner has now fallen in love with someone else and wants to celebrate love again.
So, what is Brassner to do? She’s decided to take her case before a Broward Circuit Court judge, whose first priority has been to rule on the constitutionality issue regarding same-sex marriage before declaring the civil union officially terminated. Brassner’s lawyer has filed a motion in Broward Circuit Court in this manner, stating that
This provision of the Florida Constitution, enacted by referendum in 2008, and the marriage statute are both in direct violation of the United States and the Florida Constitutions in that they deny the Petitioner’s rights to a dissolution of her civil union entered into with another woman, to which she would otherwise be entitled were her spouse of the opposite sex instead of the same sex. In addition, the statute and the constitution prevent the Petitioner from marrying her partner, which she intends to do once her civil union to the Respondent is resolved.
At stake in Brassner’s case is her right to have her civil union recognized in Florida, a state that not only forbids same-sex marriage within its territory but also doesn’t recognize civil unions/marriages that were legally performed in other states. Vermont terminated civil unions in 2009 when it officially legalized same-sex marriage, and the civil union in which Brassner finds herself is one of red tape that seems to have her locked down for the time being.