Federal judge rules Tennessee must respect marriages of 3 same-sex couples

On March 14, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger ruled that state officials must respect the marriages of three same-sex couples whose lawsuit challenges the state’s marriage ban. These couples' marriages will be respected as their case proceeds, since the judge explained that plaintiffs are likely to prevail in their case. 

The judge wrote, "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."

The ruling is in Tanco v. Haslam, a case filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights in October 2013. 

Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson celebrated the ruling today. He said:

This is the eighth judge in recent months to rule on a challenge to marriage discrimination, with now eight out of eight ruling that under our Constitution, across our entire country, marriage discrimination should and must end. The judge's powerful words and the fact that today's ruling comes out of Tennessee make clear that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry, 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.

Tennessee is the second Southern state where a federal judge has ruled in favor of respect for out-of-state marriages for same-sex couples, following Kentucky in February. Fifty-five lawsuits seeking the freedom to marry or respect for out-of-state marriages are currently pending in federal and state court in 28 states across the country.

This year, Freedom to Marry launched Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, a $1 million campaign in partnership with 15 state and regional organizations dedicated to equality for LGBT people in the South. The bipartisan campaign is designed to amplify stories of why marriage matters in the South and features 13 honorary co-chairs, including U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Congressman John Lewis, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Mark McKinnon (chief adviser to President George W. Bush), musician and author Lance Bass, and TV producers Harry Thomason & Linda Bloodworth-Thomason.

Read all about marriage litigation HERE, and learn more about Southerners for the Freedom to Marry