Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Gill v. Nostrand

Court of Appeals of The District of Columbia

April 25, 2019

Brian GILL, Appellant,
v.
Rodney Van NOSTRAND, Appellee.

         Argued February 14, 2019

Page 870

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 871

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 872

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 873

          Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, DRB-1774-14 (Hon. Robert Okun, Trial Judge)

         Aaron Marr Page, with whom Christopher J. Gowen was on the brief, for appellant.

         Jack Maginnis for appellee.

         Before Thompson, Easterly, and McLeese, Associate Judges.

          OPINION

         Thompson, Associate Judge

         Plaintiff/appellant Brian Gill and defendant/appellee Rodney Van Nostrand were in a romantic relationship and cohabited for several years beginning in 2004. After their romantic relationship waned, and a few months after Mr. Van Nostrand had a ceremonial wedding in Brazil to another man he had met while on a lengthy work assignment in that country, Mr. Gill filed a complaint for legal separation from Mr. Van Nostrand, alleging that the two men are parties in a common law marriage that began in 2004.[1] Mr. Gill also sought alimony and a distribution of marital property. Mr. Van Nostrand denied that he and Mr. Gill had entered into a common law marriage. The matter was tried in the Superior Court over several days in June and July 2017. In its post-trial decision that we are asked to review, the trial court recognized that same-sex common law marriages are lawful in the District of Columbia and referred to its prior ruling in the case "that a party in a same-sex relationship

Page 874

must be given the opportunity to prove a common law marriage, even at a time when same-sex marriage was not legal ...." The court concluded, however, that Mr. Gill had failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence the existence of a common law marriage between him and Mr. Van Nostrand. The court therefore dismissed Mr. Gill’s complaint.

         In this appeal, Mr. Gill does not take issue with the trial court’s description of what he was required to prove in order to prevail on his claims: "that he and [Mr. Van Nostrand] made a commitment to each other, in the present tense, that was comparable to the commitment that parties make to each other in ceremonial marriages." Mr. Gill asserts, however, that the trial court erred by unconstitutionally "[r]equiring the parties’ ... agreement and relationship to meet expectations of form, custom, and marital consciousness drawn from the very institution of traditionally-conceived marriage from which they were excluded" before the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.[2] Mr. Gill also argues that the trial court’s assessment of the parties’ relationship "was affected by prejudicial assumptions and expectations." He further asserts that the trial court "provided no room for the different forms that a ‘marriage’ agreement occurring in the shadow of the institution might take ...." He characterizes the trial court’s reasoning as "an insult to the seriousness of same-sex relationships," and contends that the trial court gave inadequate consideration to the parties’ "commitment, intimacy, shared responsibility, and ... vision of [the] permanence" of their relationship.

          Because we are satisfied that the record does not support Mr. Gill’s characterization of the trial court’s ruling, and because the evidence did not compel the trial court to conclude that the parties made an express mutual commitment to each other that was comparable ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.