A lesbian couple from Rhode Island have started a legal debate in their home state after seeking a divorce from a same sex marriage obtained in Massachusetts.

Margaret Chambers and Cassandra Ormiston took advantage of the opening up of marriage to gay couples in Massachusetts in 2004, but now that they want to separate, it creates a confusing issue for Rhode Island where there is no law recognising gay marriage.

Rhode Island allows same sex couples to get married in Massachusetts, the only US state with full marriage equality.

But this latest development means the state’s courts must decide whether it can grant a divorce for a law which is not recognised in its jurisdiction.

Michele Granda, a lawyer at the group Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, told the Associated Press: “Married gay couples should be treated just like married different-sex couples.

“Same-sex couples are married, they deserve the protections of marriage and one of the those protections is the ability to be divorced in an organized, legal way.”

Ms Ormiston’s lawyer says all she wants is a divorce and isn’t asking Rhode Island to recognise gay marriage.