An attorney for same-sex couples who married in other states and want their unions recognized in Tennessee says a new federal court ruling on the subject could help their case.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II struck down Kentucky's ban against recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law. Nine other federal and state courts have invalidated such bans, including in Utah and Oklahoma.
Nashville attorney Abby Rubenfeld said she planned to file Heyburn's opinion as part of the pending Tennessee suit before U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger. The Tennessee suit is more narrow than Kentucky's since it applies only to couples who lived in marriage-recognition states when they wed and then moved to Tennessee later.
Fighting recognition of their unions, Rubenfeld said, is a waste of time and money.
"There are important situations that need solutions," Rubenfeld said. "Our marriages don't hurt anybody. It's a core principle of our Constitution — people can believe what they want, but they can't impose through the government their religious views. That's what marriage laws do."
Supporters of Tennessee's same-sex marriage recognition ban, which is in both state statute and the state constitution, have said it isn't about hurting gay people or about religion but about protecting traditional families.