A Tennessee resident, who married his same-sex spouse in Iowa, filed this lawsuit in Tennessee state court under both the Equal Protection and the Full Faith and Credit Clauses, against the State of Tennessee. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, requested that the State recognize his out- ...
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A Tennessee resident, who married his same-sex spouse in Iowa, filed this lawsuit in Tennessee state court under both the Equal Protection and the Full Faith and Credit Clauses, against the State of Tennessee. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, requested that the State recognize his out-of-state same-sex marriage, so he could file for divorce in Tennessee. The plaintiff requested an injunction, challenging Tennessee's anti-recognition laws. He argued that these laws treated legal same-sex marriages as a special class singled out for disadvantages without any legitimate basis.
On August 5, 2014, the state court (Judge Russell E. Simmons, Jr.) granted summary judgment in favor of Tennessee. The court held that Tennessee's anti-recognition laws did not single out same-sex marriages validly performed in other states, and therefore, did not violate the Equal Protection and Full Faith and Credit Clauses.
The plaintiff had relied on June 26, 2013, ruling in United States v. Windsor, in which the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as an affront to the Equal Protection rights of same-sex couples. United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675. However, in this case, Judge Simmons distinguished Windsor by explaining that the "Windsor case was concerned with the definition of marriage, only as it applied to federal laws, and does not give an opinion concerning whether one State must accept as valid a same-sex marriage allowed in another State." Judge Simmons acknowledged that marriage was a fundamental right, but held that the right did not extend beyond traditional marriage between one man and one woman. 2014 WL 4251133.
In the meantime, other plaintiffs in Tennessee brought a federal litigation challenging the same-sex marriage ban, in Tanco v. Haslam, PB-TN-0005
in this Clearinghouse. In that matter, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the marriage ban, but on June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed in Obergefell v. Hodges. 576 U.S (2015), making same-sex marriage legal in all states in which it had not already become so, including Tennessee. Katherine Reineck - 03/21/2015
Beth Richardson - 07/24/2015