What Wald and other lawyers for same-sex couples in "wed-locked" situations push for is what's called a nunc pro tunc judgment, which means "retroactive to an earlier date."
For example, a woman came to Wald's firm in 2010 with a new spouse on whom she depended for insurance. But she had previously been in a civil union with someone else in Vermont, which had never been dissolved because California wasn't recognizing the other state's civil unions at that time. Wald's firm convinced the court in California that the civil union in Vermont could be retroactively dissolved.
With all of this complexity, many same-sex couples find themselves in legal quandaries such as this one, which one would not expect in the course of breaking up a heterosexual marriage.
"Things have been so confusing that there are a lot of honest mistakes being made," Wald said. "It's expensive to get all of this sorted out."
There's also a level of fear that some gays and lesbians have about the court system, said Dennis Collard, an attorney with Kessler & Solomiany in Atlanta, Georgia. "Even though in my experience courts treat them with respect, a lot of gay people are scared."
Collard doesn't see the residency requirements changing for divorce broadly, however, because that would open the door to anyone -- regardless of orientation -- shopping around for states that would favor them in a divorce. Certain states have reputations for doling out more child support, for instance, said Collard.
Since Georgia doesn't recognize same-sex marriages, Collard and colleagues can't get "wed-locked" couples official divorces. But they can help them navigate the legal process through certain issues: dividing real estate or bank accounts, or honoring contracts.
There is an alternative called "collaborative law," in which attorneys represent both parties, but it's a very structured process like a litigation.
Steven Petrow, an author who writes about gay issues, said a prenuptial agreement is sometimes the best way to ensure that a same-sex couple will have an "easier divorce."
"While not terribly romantic, these can be great tools to protect both spouses in the event things don't work out," he said in an e-mail. "Just don't wait to the last minute to bring it up with your fiancé."
Divorce as part of equal rights
Port sees the right to both marriage and divorce as parts of the fight for equality for same-sex couples.
In Maryland, the General Assembly passed a bill in February that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state, but which won't take effect until 2013. However, opponents are pushing for a November referendum. A similar scenario is playing out this week in Washington state.
Some experts say there is an added sense of guilt that comes with breaking up a same-sex marriage, since advocates have fought so hard for the right to marry.
Same-sex couples find their stride on wedding day
"Because so many of these first same-sex marriages are role models for the gay community, the breakdown of a relationship carries an added symbolic weight," Petrow said. "It's almost as though they are letting the rest of us down, which, of course, isn't true. But it can feel that way to these individuals."
But Port doesn't feel that way. "We want equal rights to marry as well as equal rights to divorce, and rights to recognize and protect our relationships just like everyone else," she said.
In her view, no one advocating for same-sex marriage is pushing for marriages to stay together if they are genuinely not working out.
"It's just like every other couple: Some make it and some don't," she said.
Port and Cowan are still waiting on the actual divorce, since a Maryland court has to reverse the decision to not dissolve their marriage. Port now has a new girlfriend, and wears a diamond ring to symbolize commitment to her, although they have no plans to marry.
Even a referendum blocks the ability for same-sex couples to get married in Maryland, Port is glad that her case has secured the ability for Maryland's same-sex couples who had been married in other states to divorce there.
"All couples in the state of Maryland will at least be guaranteed the same rights, regardless of where they got married," she said. "I'm grateful that my case will help at least ensure some rights and protections."