A lesbian couple who married in Massachusetts are unable to get divorced in their home state of Rhode Island, the state’s Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

The three-to-two decision ruled that the state’s family court does not have the ability to grant a divorce to gay couples as the state defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

“The role of the judicial branch is not to make policy, but simply to determine the legislative intent,” the court said in a written judgement.

Cassandra Ormiston and Margaret Chambers married in Massachusetts three years ago and attempted to divorce last year.

The case has been complicated by the fact that Massachusetts only grants unions to residents of states where their relationship would be recognised. Last year, a Massachusetts judge ruled that Rhode Island does. Although the state does not ban gay marriage but does define it as an act of union between a man or a woman.

“My civil rights, my human rights have been denied,” Ormiston told the Associated Press. “It’s no small matter.”

Louis Pulner, Margaret Chambers’s lawyer said: “I feel that it’s unfortunate that two people who are legally married can not get closure here in the state of Rhode Island.”