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VOL. 38 | NO. 40 | Friday, October 3, 2014

What court action means for Tennessee

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NASHVILLE (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to turn away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian unions does not have a direct effect on Tennessee because the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals must still rule on the state's case.

WHAT IS TENNESSEE'S CURRENT LAW?

Currently, Tennessee law recognizes marriage as the union between one man and one woman.

WHERE DOES THE CHALLENGE OF TENNESSEE'S SAME-SEX MARRIAGE PROHIBITIONS STAND?

Three couples who were married in other states before moving to Tennessee sued in federal court in Nashville last year to have their marriages recognized.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger has not ruled on the case, but in March she issued a preliminary injunction that required Tennessee to temporarily recognize the marriages while their case worked its way through the courts.

The injunction was put on hold after Tennessee appealed Trauger's order to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — and after one of the couples had a baby. The little girl became the first child in the state to have parents of the same gender listed on her birth certificate.

Tennessee initially appealed only the temporary order that applied to the three couples. However, those couples have asked the court to go ahead and rule on the bigger question of whether Tennessee's refusal to recognize legal same-sex marriages that were performed in other states is constitutional.

WHEN WILL THE 6TH CIRCUIT RULE?

The court heard oral arguments in August and could rule at any time. Whatever the decision, it is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

WHAT WILL BE THE IMPACT OF THE 6TH CIRCUIT'S DECISION?

The judges at the 6th Circuit decided to hear Tennessee's case along with same-sex marriage cases from Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio. Because of that, they may end up deciding not just whether out-of-state same-sex marriages must be recognized in Tennessee, but also whether Tennessee must allow the marriages to take place in the state.

HOW ARE MOST SAME-SEX MARRIAGE CASES BEING DECIDED?

Since the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, most cases across the country have been decided in favor of expanding marriage rights for same-sex couples. But a Tennessee judge ruled the other way in August. In that case, a couple who were married in Iowa before moving to Tennessee were denied a divorce by a Roane County Circuit Court judge.

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