From a reader…
My husband and I (both Roman Catholic) are separated. We separated in July after I learned he is secretly gay and has been meeting men for a decade, including before and throughout the entire time we were dating, engaged, and married.
I’ve already spoken to my parish priest about an annulment and we are in the divorce process. We have a toddler daughter. My husband does not want the marriage to dissolve.
My priest says it is a clear case of invalidity. But I would just like (hopefully) a word of encouragement that, on it’s face, you think those are reasonable grounds for me to seek a divorce and annulment.
While we do not have his side of the story, this doesn’t seem all that difficult a case.
Homosexuality, especially when concealed, would likely be a solid ground for exploring the invalidity of consent, because the person who now identifies as “gay” was incapable of assuming the obligations of marriage (can. 1095, 3), or because he deceived the person into marriage by concealing his tendencies (can. 1098) or possibly from error qualitatis personae (can. 1097).
If he had been seeing others prior to and after consent, there might also be the possibility of simulation against the good of fidelity (can. 1101) on his part.
I was in touch with a canonist with lots of tribunal experience who advised me that, tribunals in these USA generally don’t accept a case until it is clear there is no hope of reconciliation between the parties. The best (though saddest) proof of that is a final divorce judgment. Some tribunals also have a waiting period after a divorce is final, like asking the Petitioner to wait a year, etc.
Furthermore, when someone alleges that his or her marriage is null, the burden of proof is on the person making the allegation.
It’s not enough to just say, “I learned he was secretly gay.”
Proof and evidence would be need of his long-term, deep-seated same-sex attraction.
The lady should submit all relevant evidence to the tribunal and let them decide the grounds.
“Gay” in itself may not be grounds for nullity.
It should be added that people who are homosexual can validly contract marriage. What matters is the state of the persons at the time of the marriage, the manifest exchange of vows of the baptized who are free, not hindered in any way, to marry.
Above, note the mention of “proofs”. Until there are proofs, the marriage is deemed to be valid.
Moreover, there are various reasons to remain together, provided that fidelity and exclusivity can be assured, keeping in mind that two men who do things to each other is not so much adultery as mutual abuse. The care of children, the goal of helping each other get to heaven… these goods are part and parcel of what was vowed at the time of the marriage and cannot be set aside without grave reasons (e.g., danger of physical violence, psychological harm to children, etc.)