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Federal judge orders Tennessee to recognize same-sex couples’ marriages

Staff Reports • Dec 15, 2015 at 2:41 PM

U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger ordered Tennessee state officials to recognize the out-of-state marriages of three same-sex couples Friday during consideration of their lawsuit challenging Tennessee’s constitutional amendment banning their recognition. 

"Yet another federal judge has recognized that bans on marriage equality don't hold up to even basic constitutional scrutiny,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin in a statement. “Though [Friday’s] ruling comes from Tennessee, it joins others issued recently in Virginia, Kentucky, Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah, and in this case the judge boldly noted that it won't be long before each and every remaining ban on marriage equality becomes a footnote in history. That day isn't here yet, but today Tennessee brought us one step closer to that goal."

David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, saw the decision a different way.

“While [Friday's] decision by federal Judge Trauger is not a final ruling, she has clearly signaled her intent to continue the war by unelected federal judges against the rights of states and the citizens of that state to determine what its policies regarding marriage should be,” Fowler said in a statement. “In stating her intent to require Tennessee to recognize out of state marriages involving two individuals of the same sex, Judge Trauger only got one thing right – that her ruling will thwart ‘democratically enacted laws’ that were ‘overwhelmingly’ approved by 80 percent of Tennessee voters.

“If Judge Trauger continues on her present course and strikes down our marriage law, we trust that our state’s Attorney General will pursue an immediate appeal to rectify this assault on the will of the people, the rights of our state and the institution of marriage.”

The Family Action Council of Tennessee was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on the family.

Currently 29 states have constitutional amendments restricting marriage to one man and one woman.  Same-sex couples can legally marry in 17 states and Washington, DC. 

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