A Tennessee county judge has just refused to grant a divorce to a same-sex couple married in Iowa who moved to the The Volunteer State.
Roane County Circuit Court Judge Russell E. Simmons Jr. has just handed down what may be the first loss for marriage equality supporters since the Supreme court's DOMA ruling in June, 2013.
Judge Simmons rule that a legally-married same sex couple who married in Iowa cannot divorce in Tennessee, as the State of Tennessee does not recognize same-sex marriages.
The ruling applies only to this one couple, and the judge recommend they appeal, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports.
Simmons in a seven-page opinion this week upheld Tennessee’s ban on same-sex marriage and ruled state laws now in effect don’t violate the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection and due process rights.
“The battle is not between whether or not marriage is a fundamental right but what unions are included in the definition of marriage,” according to Simmons’ ruling.
That decision, the judge opined, “should be the prerogative of each state. That neither the federal government nor another state should be allowed to dictate to Tennessee what has traditionally been a state’s responsibility, which is to provide a framework of laws to govern the safety and wellbeing of its citizens.”
“The laws of Iowa concerning same sex marriage are so diametrically opposed to Tennessee’s laws, and Tennessee’s own legitimate public policy concerning same-sex marriage, that Tennessee is not required by the U.S. Constitution to give full faith and credit to a valid marriage of a same-sex couple in Iowa,” according to Simmons’ ruling.
Frederick Michael Borman and Larry Kevin Pyles-Borman married in Iowa four years ago, before moving to Tennessee.