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Gay marriage news: Same-sex marriage ban upheld in TN; heads to trial in MO

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Monday was an interesting and shocking day for the gay marriage fight in two states. In a surprise decision, Roane County Circuit Judge Russell E. Simmons Jr. upheld Tennessee’s gay marriage ban. The ruling ended a string of legal victories for gay marriage. The state of Missouri is hoping to get back on the winning track as a legal challenge to the state’s gay marriage ban returned to court.

The ruling by Simmons is surprising because of the trend set fourth by the Supreme Court’s historic ruling back in June of 2013. In a monumental decision for gay marriage, the court overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Since then, many federal courts throughout the nation have been overruling state bans as unconstitutional. Simmons, however, feels the state of Tennessee does not violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause based on the state’s interests.

Simmons wrote, “There is nothing irrational about limiting the institution of marriage for the purpose for which it was created, by embracing its traditional definition. To conclude otherwise is to impose one’s own view of what a State ought to do on the subject of same-sex marriage.”

While Simmons’ ruling contradicts the 30 other marriage-related rulings, it serves as a reminder that there is still a long road ahead for full marriage equality rights for gay and lesbian couples in all 50 states. The decision could have an impact on the legal challenge in Missouri.

According to the Associated Press, the challenge is on a path to head to trial next month after returning to a St. Louis court Monday. The legal challenge was inspired by victories in surrounding states. St. Louis officials began issuing marriage licenses, but agreed to stop issuing licenses to gay couples until a resolution is reached on the state and federal level.

There was also movement in the state of Indiana. The attorney general’s office filed its final brief with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday. Attorneys are asking the federal appeals court to overrule a judge who overturned the state’s ban. They are arguing that traditional marriage is in the interest of the state. Indiana’s case is being combined with Wisconsin’s case as oral arguments in the combined case are scheduled for Aug. 26.