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High court to hear gay divorce case

Can a gay couple married in one U.S. state get a divorce in another? Rhode Island's highest court will hear arguments on whether a lower court judge can decide if a gay couple married in Massachusetts can get divorced in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island law is silent on the validity on same-sex marriages. Lawyers for both parties say the divorce case will not decide whether gay couples can get married in Rhode Island, but it affects whether the state will recognize same-sex couples wed in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts became the first state in the country to allow gay marriage in 2003.

Cassandra Ormiston and Margaret Chambers wed in Massachusetts in 2004 after same-sex marriage became legal there. The couple last year filed for divorce in Rhode Island, where they live, citing irreconcilable differences.

Earlier this year, state Attorney General Patrick Lynch issued a nonbinding opinion urging Rhode Island to recognize Massachusetts gay marriages.

In December, Chief Family Court Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah Jr. asked the Rhode Island Supreme Court to say whether he had jurisdiction to handle the couple's divorce case, which is believed to be the state's first.

In an order dated Monday, the high court agreed to take up the question and said it would accept written briefs on or before Aug. 1.