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Tennessee judge upholds same-sex marriage ban

[JURIST] A Tennessee county judge has upheld [opinion, PDF] Tennessee's same-sex marriage ban, marking the first time a court has found the Constitution does not protect same-sex marriage since the Supreme Court's decision overturning of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013. Roane County Circuit Judge Russell Simmons Jr., of Kingston, Tennessee upheld the State's Anti-Recognition Laws, Article XI Section 18 of Tennessee's constitution [text, PDF] which prohibits the state from recognizing any out-of-state marriage other than a union between one man and one woman. In his opinion, issued last week but just made publicly available, the judge 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." The plaintiffs, a couple who were married in Iowa in 2010 argued that Tennessee's Anti-Recognition Laws violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution. The court held that Tennessee's same-sex marriage ban is rationally related to state interests and therefore does not violate the equal protection clause.

Since the Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act [text] last year, many federal courts have declared state same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. Earlier this month the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] heard oral arguments [JURIST report] in six lawsuits challenging same-sex marriage bans [materials] in four states. In July the US District Court for the District of Colorado struck down Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage [JURIST report] as unconstitutional, but he immediately stayed his ruling pending an appeal to a higher court.

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