Everyone needs to congratulate Henry King for finally freeing himself from a wife he’s tried to leave for nearly three decades.
In 1993, he first filed for divorce from Lynn King citing “cruel and inhumane treatment.” Because a judge said there wasn’t enough evidence of that, the divorce didn’t go through.
Now you might think that trying to get a divorce might be a sign that this marriage is broken… but they chose to stayed married. At least that’s what Lynn wanted.
Lynn is a Pentecostal Christian who believes marriages must last until death because those vows were “promised before God.” Also, she says, the Bible forbids divorce. Henry is literally bound to her for life now.
He tried to divorce her again in 2016, years after state law changed to allow divorces for couples whose marriages were “irretrievably broken” for at least six months… but Lynn King challenged that as well. A legal battle dragged on for a while but the divorce was finally granted last year.
End of story? Of course not. Lynn then filed a lawsuit against the State of New York saying that allowing the divorce to go through violated her religious rights because it was forcing her to go against God’s wishes.
Now a judge has dismissed her claim, saying she doesn’t have standing. He said there’s no “constitutional right to remain married” and that her religious marriage (the spiritual side of things) is separate from her legal marriage (which can absolutely be dissolved).
It’s almost funny to read this stuff in print because a judge has to explain, in writing, that we don’t live in a theocracy.
L. King contends that she has suffered an injury in fact and direct harm… because, as a devout Christian, the law has forced her to live in “sin” and face great “shame,” and because it infringes upon her constitutional right to marry.
… L. King’s argument that H. King does not have a constitutional right to divorce misses the point entirely. The issue is not whether there exists a constitutional right to divorce; rather, it is whether [the law] infringes upon her constitutional rights. And it does not, because an individual does not have a right to remain married to another adult against his or her will.
Indeed, an opposite finding, i.e., a finding that H. King must remain married against his will because of L. King’s religious convictions would defy all logic and reason, and create a much larger Establishment Clause issue than the one L. King argues exists today.
It’s the right decision, obviously. It’s just crazy that a judge had to write it up. At least the couple can finally move on with their lives. One of them, anyway.