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Protests of same-sex marriage can impact all Tennessee couples

Since the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in every state last year, some lawmakers, judges and administrators in states where it wasn’t previously legal have gone to what many would consider extreme measures in protest of the ruling. Some of these actions have impacted not only gay couples seeking to marry or divorce, but straight couples as well.

Last fall, a Tennessee judge refused to grant a divorce to a straight couple. He cited the Supreme Court ruling as his reason. Tennessee was one of four states whose laws were in question before the Supreme Court in what became the historic case of Obergefell v. Hodges. Amid some harsh words for the high court’s decision, the judge said that it had “preempt[ed] state courts from addressing marriage/divorce litigation altogether.”

While Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, gained notoriety last summer when she stopped issuing any marriage licenses because she said that same-sex marriage was against her religious beliefs, she wasn’t alone. Other county clerks also stopped issuing licenses to any couples, straight or gay, after the June Supreme Court ruling.

Now a lawsuit here in Tennessee by the leader of a conservative group called the Family Action Council of Tennessee to halt the issuance of marriage licenses in our state has gained the support of several state legislators. The suit came after committee members in the Tennessee House rejected an attempt to nullify the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Like the judge in the earlier Tennessee divorce case, the head of FACT is using the argument that in its decision, the high court invalidated the state’s marriage statute. He told reporters than an “invalid law is no law.”

How much legal traction any of these maneuvers get and just how long people in authority continue to protest the Supreme Court’s decision by attempting to inconvenience the lives of all Tennesseans who simply are trying to exercise their legal right to marry or divorce remains to be seen.

If you and your spouse are divorcing or dealing with any other kind of family law issue, it’s always wise to have an experienced Tennessee attorney to advise you and protect your rights. That may be more crucial now in this environment than ever before.

Source: Think Progress, “Tennessee Lawmakers Endorse Bid To Declare All Marriage Illegal In Order To Spite Equality,” Zack Ford, Jan. 25, 2016


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