Tennessee Must Temporarily Recognize Same-Sex Marriage
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While many jurisdictions have legalized same-sex civil marriage through court rulings, legislative action, and popular vote, four states prohibit same-sex civil marriage by statute and 29 prohibit it in their constitutions. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enacted in 1996, allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed under the laws of other states.

Same-sex marriage is allowed in 17 states and the District of Columbia. U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger in Nashville, Tennessee, has ruled that Tennessee must temporarily recognize three couples’ out-of-state gay marriages, according to Bloomberg News, Judge Trauger granted a preliminary injunction Friday against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in certain instances.


The three same-sex couples that had filed the lawsuit asking the state to recognize their marriages had been performed in states where gay marriage is legal. Judge Aleta Trauger wrote in the order that “At this point, all signs indicate that, in the eyes of the United States Constitution, the plaintiffs’ marriages will be placed on an equal footing with those of heterosexual couples and that proscriptions against same-sex marriage will soon become a footnote in the annals of American history,” according to USA Today. The ruling does not extend to all gay couples in Tennessee, to those who got married elsewhere, only to the three who sued.

Opponents of same-sex marriage like David Fowler, a former state senator led the charge for Tennessee’s double ban, calling the ruling “part of a war on the rights of states and citizens to determine marriage policy.”

According to the tennessean.com, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger’s order sets a precedent, noting that the ban — put into state law in 1996 and then voted into the state constitution in 2006 — fails to meet constitutional standards under even a minimal review. A spokeswoman for Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, Sharon Curtis-Flair, did not immediately respond to a voice-mail message, according to Bloomberg News, seeking comment on the decision. New Jersey as well as the legislatures of Hawaii and Illinois has all legalized same-sex marriage in their states. Oregon recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

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