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Is Homosexuality Recognized Grounds for a Religious Annulment

December 31, 2016 Blog

It is common knowledge that divorce is used to remedy a failed marriage. One spouse petitions the court to dissolve the union by alleging irreconcilable differences or some other reasons based on state requirements. Eventually, a decree of divorce is granted to end a marriage that, although it was validly contracted between both parties, ultimately failed.

A different way to end a marriage is through an annulment. Similar to a divorce, you can get a decree to that ends the marriage. However, the declaration for an annulment starts that the marriage was never a valid union because of some type of defect when the marriage began.

Common Myth about the Annulment Process in the Catholic Church

There are misconceptions about what the Catholic Church may consider grounds for a religious annulment. One common myth is that the annulment will dissolve a valid marriage. However, the Church does not forget that you were in a marriage and accepts you entering a new one simply because a religious annulment was granted.

In truth, the annulment process does not dissolve a valid marriage. What it dies is determine whether a valid marriage ever took place. If findings show that the marriage was indeed valid, nothing dissolves the bond according to the Church, even if a civil court grants your divorce. A determination that a valid marriage never took place no longer binds the spouses to each other. In the eyes of God, they were never married.

Annulments have an appeal to devout Catholics who are able to remarry after an annulment without the Catholic Church objecting to their second marriage. Typically, annulments rarely make the news unless a famous Catholic politician or celebrity are involved. Unlike getting a divorce, the practice of annulments happen less frequently.

Grounds for an Annulment According to State Laws

State laws, however, follow a different rule of law regarding annulments. In theory, annulments are tightly regulated as each state has specific circumstances that will allow a marriage to be annulled. Generally, grounds for annulment can include:

• Bigamy
• Duress
• Fraud
• Impotence
• Incest
• Infancy
• Mental incompetence

These are all considered impediments to having a lawful marriage and should have existed at the time the union occurred on presumably valid grounds. The law requires that if one or more of these defects

How Courts View Using Homosexuality as Grounds for an Annulment

When it comes to homosexuality, courts have viewed the concealment of homosexual tendencies or activities by one spouse as a fraudulent act. This legal standing serves as a basis for an annulment. Since the timing of the activity determines whether a marriage can be annulled, there may need to be proof that one spouse engaged without the knowledge of the other spouse.

Legal scholars continue to debate how the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage effects the terms of granting a religious annulment on the grounds of homosexuality.

Traditional and Modern Approach to Fraud-Based Annulments

With some courts, you have no grounds for an annulment if your spouse’s homosexual activity took place long before you two were married. In addition, with same-sex marriage becoming legally acceptable nationally, it is unlikely that a court will continue to entertain the private sexual choices of one person as grounds for granting an annulment on the basis that you were defrauded in the marriage.

If the court deems that, even as an innocent party you were willfully blind to the truth, it will not nullify the marriage. Another requirement is that fraud was used to induce the marriage. In this case, you would have to show that you genuinely relied on the misrepresented information to decide to marry the other person.

Furthermore, a solidly proven case of fraud still might not be enough to receive an annulment of the marriage. Some courts may decide that countervailing factors outweigh the claim of fraud.

If you have been married a long time, you will have an even harder time annulling the marriage on the grounds of homosexuality. A marriage that produces children or has been consummated is also difficult to prove fraud.



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