(WBIR) Two men who married in Iowa are trying to get a divorce in Tennessee.
The problem? The state will not let them divorce because it does not recognize same-sex marriages.
Frederick Borman married Larry Pyles-Borman in Iowa back in August 2010. According to court documents, they separated in December 2011 while living in Roane County. Frederick Borman filed for divorce in March 2014.
"He's not asking Tennessee to perform same-sex marriages. He doesn't want them to perform a marriage. He's already been validly married in the state of Iowa. He's just asking that the state of Tennessee recognize his marriage for the limited purpose of granting him a divorce in the state," said Mark Foster, Frederick's attorney.
According to Foster, as far as he knows, this is the first case of its kind in Tennessee.
Foster said the pair cannot get divorced in Iowa because they are no longer residents of the state.
In the divorce filing, Foster attached several examples of similar federal cases, including one featuring a Knoxville couple.
Sophie Jesty and Valeria Tanco married in New York, a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, then moved to Tennessee where same-sex marriage is banned. Earlier this year, a federal judge in Nashville ruled to recognize their union, along with two other Tennessee couples. The decision came in time for the couple to include both women as parents on their newborn's birth certificate. However, that marriage is once again not recognized by the state.
"There are a lot of issues that can arise when you have people in one state that are able to marry and then they travel to another state and different laws apply. And it's an issue the courts are really grappling with right now," Foster said.
The Office of the Attorney General is ready to defend the constitutionality of Tennessee's marriage laws. In response to the divorce filing, the Office of the Attorney General filed a motion in May to intervene.
Their response said, "There is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage." The Office of the Attorney General also noted the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Baker v. Nelson saying, "a state law limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples does not violate the Equal Protection Clause."
"It's sort of ironic that the state has passed this law for the purpose of preventing same-sex marriages, but now they won't let someone in a same-sex marriage get divorced," Foster said.
The Roane County Circuit Court Clerk's Office does not have any records of a response from Larry Pyles-Borman.
A hearing is scheduled for Friday morning in Roane County Circuit Court. Judge Russell Simmons, Jr. will hear arguments from both Foster and the Office of the Attorney General to decide if the state's law is or is not constitutional.
Depending on the outcome, both sides have the chance to appeal the decision.
According to Foster, if the judge rules in his client's favor, it only affects this case.