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Marriage Equality For Three Same-Sex Couples In Tennessee

A federal judge in Nashville ruled on Friday that the state must recognize the union of three same-sex couples who were married in other states where marriage equality is legal.

Court battle in Tennessee sees temporary victory for marriage equality
Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

The three couples, Matthew Mansell and Johno Espejo of Franklin, Dr Valeria Tanco and Dr. Sophy Jesty of Knoxville, Ijpe DeKoe and Thomas Kostura of Memphis submitted the lawsuit against the states marriage ban in October. All of the couples named in the lawsuit were married in either New York or California before moving to Tennessee.

U.S District Judge Aleta Trauger granted the preliminary injunction which applies only to the three couples while the court reviews the constitutionality of Tennessee’s ban of recognizing same-sex marriages.
In the official ruling Judge Aleta Trauger signalled that same-sex marriage bans may soon become a mere historical memory.

“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.” wrote Judge Aleta Trauger.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, celebrated the ruling.

“The judge's powerful words and the fact that today's ruling comes out of Tennessee makes it clear that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry,” said Wolfson “and it is time for appellate judges and the Supreme Court to do right by all families and bedrock principles of liberty and equality under the law.”

Not everyone though is pleased with the court’s decision. GOP state Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville said he was highly disappointed in the ruling.

"I am saddened that a federal judge has chosen to, at least in a narrow way, overturn the will of over 81% of the people of the state of Tennessee who devoted to define marriage as between a man and a woman." he said. "I am hoping the higher courts will overturn this activist judge's ruling."

The court’s ruling is currently being reviews by the Tennessee Attorney Generals office where AG Robert Cooper has stated that his office would continue to support the marriage ban and would “take all necessary steps to defend the law.”

Currently Tennessee does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil union and the court case stands to become a significant driving force used to break down anti marriage equality bans that are heavily prominent in the south.

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