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Delaware Same-Sex Marriage Law Could Have Impact in Nearby NJ, Pa.

By David Madden

DOVER, Del. (CBS) — Now that Delaware has become the eleventh state to legalize same-sex marriage (see related story), with the change taking effect July 1st, what does that mean for the rest of the tri-state region?

Pennsylvania does not recognize gay marriages or civil unions.  New Jersey, on the other hand, has a civil union law.

Richard deMichele Jr. is a Haddon Heights attorney who doesn’t see a lot of problems for same-sex couples joined in Delaware who would move to the Garden State.

Although as the new law plays itself out,  he recognizes, it’s likely to be tested in our region.

“With Delaware enacting their law and being so close, in particular to South Jersey, I think there’s going to be a lot more opportunity for those issues to arise,” deMichele tells KYW Newsradio.

For example, he says, if a gay couple married in Delaware files for divorce in New Jersey.

Then again, he adds, gay marriage has been the law of the land in New York State for almost two years now, with no major controversy in North Jersey.

Pennsylvania, on the other hand, is a totally different ball game.

“Pennsylvania has what is referred to as a mini-DOMA — a state version of the Defense of Marriage Act — which provides that Pennsylvania does not have to recognize a same-sex marriage entered into in any other state,” notes Philadelphia attorney Michael Viola.

That said, he expects gay Pennsylvanians will venture to Delaware to tie the knot even if it’s just a symbolic act back home.

But what could be an issue on both sides of the river is a divorce: Viola suggests that one-half of a gay couple married in Delaware might have to move there to break it up.

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