The downward spiral from Natural Marriage

ringsOct 2013 – Same-sex couples challenging TN laws in federal lawsuit

Posted: Oct 21, 2013 9:11 AM CDT Updated: Nov 04, 2013 9:12 AM CST
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) –

Several same-sex couples have filed a federal lawsuit challenging Tennessee’s laws that deny recognition to legally married same-sex couples.

The state does not recognize legally married same-sex couples, so couples married in other states cannot come back here and have their marriages recognized.

Also, if one partner wants to take their partner’s last name, they can change their Social Security card since the federal government recognizes same-sex unions but not their driver’s licenses.

Sophy Jesty and Val Tanco expect their first child in March.

“When we got that positive, it was one of the happiest days in our lives,” Tanco said.

They are both veterinarians in Knoxville and married in New York in 2011. But since moving to Tennessee, they’re no longer considered married.

“What would you feel like if that happened to you? It’s very surreal,” Jesty said.

“We only have one Constitution in this country. It applies to us in Tennessee, as well as New Jersey, New York, anywhere else,” said attorney Abby Rubenfeld. “These married couples are entitled to receive the same treatment as any other couples in Tennessee, and that’s what’s going to happen in this lawsuit.”

Fourteen states have marriage equality, meaning same-sex married couples have legal rights that unmarried people don’t have.

For example, in Tennessee, should Tanco die, Jesty has no legal right to their baby.

“I would not legally in the state of Tennessee, not be considered the other parent of that child,” Jesty said.

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Mar 14: Tennessee lawyer wants same-sex marriage ruling to open doors –  March 14, 2014

A narrow federal ruling in Nashville ultimately could affect hundreds of same-sex couples in Tennessee, laying the groundwork for an end to one of the nation’s strongest bans on same-sex marriage.

Nashville attorney Abby Rubenfeld said she and her colleagues are preparing a lawsuit that would recognize gay, married couples in a number of situations – those who married in other states and live here, those who want to end those marriages but can’t obtain a divorce, and those denied typical probate proceedings because their spouses died.

For now, they’re celebrating U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger’s preliminary injunction Friday against applying Tennessee’s same-sex marriage recognition ban to the three couples named in a current lawsuit. 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.

It’s the same way every federal judge has ruled on such suits since the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2013 Defense of Marriage Act ruling, which overturned sections of the federal ban. Trauger’s ruling relies heavily on earlier decisions by judges in Ohio and Kentucky, also under the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“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,” Trauger wrote.

The Tennessee Attorney General’s office is reviewing the decision and will “take all necessary steps to defend the law,” spokeswoman Sharon Curtis-Flair wrote in an email.

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Mar 15: Court: Tenn. Must Recognize 3 Same-Sex Marriages

NASHVILLE, Tenn. March 15, 2014 (AP) – A federal judge ordered the state of Tennessee on Friday to recognize the marriages of three same-sex couples while their lawsuit against the state works its way through the court system.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger issued the preliminary injunction barring the state from enforcing laws prohibiting recognition of their marriages.

In her written memorandum, Trauger makes clear that her order is only temporary and only applies to the three same-sex couples. A preliminary injunction can only be granted in cases the judge believes the plaintiff will likely win.

“It’s the first nail in the coffin of discriminating against same-sex married couples in Tennessee,” said Abby Rubenfeld, one of the attorneys for the same-sex couples. “Every single court that has considered these same issues has ruled the same way.”

A spokesman for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said in an email that Trauger’s decision is still being reviewed by officials.

“The governor is disappointed that the court has stepped in when Tennesseans have voted clearly on this issue,” David Smith said. “Beyond that it’s inappropriate to comment due to the continuing litigation.”

In Tennessee, marriage between partners of the same gender is prohibited by state law and by a constitutional amendment approved in 2006.

The three same-sex couples were legally married in other states. Their lawsuit did not challenge laws barring same-sex marriage in Tennessee, only those that prohibit recognizing such marriages performed in other states.

Trauger found that the plaintiffs were likely to prevail and that currently they are suffering irreparable harm because of the state’s refusal to recognize their marriages. She noted numerous rulings around the country that have struck down bans against same-sex marriage or a state’s refusal to recognize the marriages.

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Mar 18: UPDATE: Tennessee governor appeals same-sex marriage order

Mar. 18, 2014

UPDATE: Tennessee’s governor is asking a federal judge to put her ruling requiring the state to recognize the marriages of three same-sex couples on hold while a higher court weighs in on the case.

Gov. Bill Haslam and state Attorney General Robert Cooper on Tuesday filed a motion saying overturning the law without an appeals court reviewing the case “frustrates the will of the people of Tennessee.” Haslam and Cooper say leaving the status quo in place pending an appeals court decision would not harm the three couples who sued for recognition.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger on Friday ordered the state to recognize the unions of the couples, who were married in other states.

Trauger made clear that her order is only temporary and only applies to the three couples.

By TRAVIS LOLLER and SHEILA BURKE Associated Press

A federal judge ordered the state of Tennessee on Friday to recognize the marriages of three same-sex couples while their lawsuit against the state works its way through the court system.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger issued the preliminary injunction barring the state from enforcing laws prohibiting recognition of their marriages.

In her written memorandum, Trauger makes clear that her order is only temporary and only applies to the three same-sex couples. A preliminary injunction can only be granted in cases the judge believes the plaintiff will likely win.

“It’s the first nail in the coffin of discriminating against same-sex married couples in Tennessee,” said Abby Rubenfeld, one of the attorneys for the same-sex couples. “Every single court that has considered these same issues has ruled the same way.”

A spokesman for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said in an email that Trauger’s decision is still being reviewed by officials.

“The governor is disappointed that the court has stepped in when Tennesseans have voted clearly on this issue,” David Smith said. “Beyond that it’s inappropriate to comment due to the continuing litigation.”

In Tennessee, marriage between partners of the same gender is prohibited by state law and by a constitutional amendment approved in 2006.

The three same-sex couples were legally married in other states. Their lawsuit did not challenge laws barring same-sex marriage , only those that prohibit recognizing such marriages performed in other states.

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Mar 20 – Federal Judge Denies Tennessee’s Request To Halt Recognition Of Same-Sex Couples’ Marriages in Tennessee   posted on

WASHINGTON – A federal judge has denied Tennessee’s request to put the state’s recognition of three same-sex couples’ marriages on hold while state officials challenge the judge’s original decision.

U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger issued a preliminary injunction last week, but Tennessee officials have appealed the temporary order to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition, the state asked Trauger to put the trial court’s ruling on hold while the appeal is heard.

Trauger on Thursday denied that request, concluding:

The court finds that all four factors weigh against a stay and in favor of continuing enforcement of the Preliminary Injunction. Even if the court were to accept that there is arguably a “serious question” about the merits of its constitutional analysis, the defendants have not even approached their burden to show “irreparable harm that decidedly outweighs the harm that will be inflicted on others if a stay is granted.”

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