Marriage Equality USA

Stay Informed

Back to Map

State of Tennessee
All in this Region

Current Status

  • Yay, Tanco! Same-sex couples CAN legally marry! Civil marriage equality cannot legally be denied at the state level, via the Supreme Court of the United States, as of 26 June 2015.
  • 2 July 2015, and, in Decatur Co., Entire Tenn. County Clerk’s Office Resigns Over Same-Sex Marriage Licenses - From WKRN Channel 9 ABC News
  • 27 June 2015, Even After Supreme Court Ruling, These States Are Still Resisting Same-Sex Marriage - By Casey Quinlan, ThinkProgress
  • On 26 June 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled FOR marriage equality and that same-gender couples have the constitutional right to marry in all 50 states and all U.S. territories.

    HISTORICAL REFERENCE

    • Tennessee’s ban applies to both same-sex marriage in the first instance and state recognition of already-existing same-sex marriages that were preformed legally outside of TN (the "non-recognition clause").
    • On 5 August 2014, Roane County Circuit Judge Russell E. Simmons, Jr. in Kingston, TN became the first judge to uphold a state ban on marriage equality, in Borman v. Piles-Borman, since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Windsor.
    • 7 November 2014, couples from the Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee marriage cases all will be seeking SCOTUS review.
    • 14 November 2014, Tennessee Plaintiffs filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking SCOTUS to reverse 6th Circuit decision. See Tanco below.
    • Constitutional ban against marriage equality from 2006 until 26 June 2015, per Tennessee Amendment 1.
    • 26 June 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States issued their decision in Obergefell, the marriage case, ruling on the side of love and marriage! Majority opinion by Justice Kennedy, 5-4. Per @SCOTUSblog, the Court's opinion relies on the dual rationales of fundamental rights AND equal protection and seems to go out of its way not to state a standard of scrutiny. "...the majority opinion rejects the claim that marriage is about procreation, even while saying that protecting children of same-sex couples supports the Court's ruling: "This is not to say that the right to marry is less meaningful for those who do not or cannot have children. An ability, desire, or promise to procreate is not and has not been a prerequisite for a valid marriage in any State."

Legislation - Pending

None.

Legislation - Enacted

SJR0134 "IDo4Life, Traditional Marriage Day" August, 31, 2013

Author/Sponsor: Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin)
Date Introduced: 21 February 2013
Date Enacted: 2 May 2013

Description:

  • A RESOLUTION designating August 31, 2013, as “ido4life Traditional Marriage Day” in Tennessee.

Lawsuits - Pending

None.

Lawsuits - Resolved

Tanco v. Haslam

Case #: 14-562 (SCOTUS); 14-5297 (6th Circuit Court of Appeals); 3:13-cv-00750 (District Court)
Court Level: 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
Date Filed: 21 October 2013
Date of Appeal: 18 March 2014
Date of Ruling: 26 June 2015

Description:

  • 21 October 2013, 4 legally married same-sex couples filed suit in U.S. District Court in Nashville, in a constitutional challenge to the TN law that bans recognition of their marriages.
  • 14 March 2014, a judge issued a preliminary injunction requiring TN to recognize the marriage licenses obtained by the (now) 3 plaintiff couples from other states, so long as their lawsuit remains in progress. The judge noted that “all signs indicate that, in the eyes of the United States Constitution ... that proscriptions against same-sex marriage will soon become a footnote in the annals of American history.”
  • 18 March 2014, the TN attorney general: (1) asked for a stay of the injunction requiring TN to recognize the civil marriages of 3 same-gender couples, and (2) notified the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that TN is appealing the order requiring recognition of marriages made elsewhere.
  • 25 March 2014, TN asked the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay on the district court’s order banning TN from enforcing the TN ban on same-gender marriage against the 6 plaintiffs.
  • 25 April 2014 a stay was issued halting recognition of the marriages.
  • 16 June 2014, oral argument scheduled for 6 August 2014 at 1:00pm EDT.
  • 6 August 2014, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument. Access audio of argument.
  • On 6 November 2014, the 6th Circuit ruled reversing the lower court's ruling and upholding the state ban on marriage equality.
  • 7 November 2014, couples from the Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee marriage cases all will be seeking SCOTUS review.
  • 7 November 2014, Analysis: Paths to same-sex marriage review - By Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog
  • 14 November 2014, Plaintiffs filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking SCOTUS to reverse 6th Circuit decision. NCLR Press Release
  • 15 December 2014, Tennessee filed a brief in opposition to review by SCOTUS asking them to deny cert.
  • 22 December 2014, the plaintiffs filed their Reply with SCOTUS.
  • 23 December 2014, all of the the 6th Circuit marriage cases - Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee - are scheduled for the 9 January 2014 Supreme Court Conference. Also on the list for this conference (previously reported) is the petition for cert before judgment in the Louisiana case. Tennessee: http://1.usa.gov/1CwKQqU
  • 9 January 2015, per Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog, the Court did not grant cert to (take for review) any new cases today. (See the 2nd through 5th cases listed in this article.) The orders that were issued today were routine. New orders will be released on Monday, 12 January 2015.
  • 12 January 2015, SCOTUS issued orders denying cert to Louisiana's Robicheaux before the 5th Circuit rules, but took no action on the cases from the 6th Circuit. Orders list. UPDATE: The Court has officially listed all four 6th Circuit marriage cases for consideration at their conference on Friday, 16 January 2015.
  • 16 January 2015, SCOTUS has spoken! All four 6th Circuit marriage cases are granted including this one. Briefing will be completed April 17, which means oral argument most likely the last week in April.
  • You can follow the marriage cases at SCOTUS on our National page under LAWSUITS-PENDING.
  • 27 February 2015, plaintiffs' brief submitted to SCOTUS.
  • 17 March 2015, Petitioners (plaintiffs) in the Supreme Court marriage cases made a formal request for divided argument time.
  • 27 March 2015, Tennessee's brief submitted to SCOTUS.
  • 28 April 2015, transcript and audio from SCOTUS arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges Question 2
  • 28 April 2015, Transcript and audio from SCOTUS arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges Question 1
  • 26 June 2015, WE WON! LOVE WON! Majority opinion by Justice Kennedy, 6-3. Per @SCOTUSblog, the Court's opinion relies on the dual rationales of fundamental rights AND equal protection and seems to go out of its way not to state a standard of scrutiny.  "...the majority opinion rejects the claim that marriage is about procreation, even while saying that protecting children of same-sex couples supports the Court's ruling: "This is not to say that the right to marry is less meaningful for those who do not or cannot have children. An ability, desire, or promise to procreate is not and has not been a prerequisite for a valid marriage in any State." READ THE RULING
  • 26 June 2015, live as of 2:00pm ET on June 26: Marriage Equality Facts
  • 28 July 2015, SCOTUS issued Judgment in the 6th Circuit cases (Obergefell).
    "THESE CAUSES came on to be heard on the transcript of the record from the above court and were argued by counsel.
    "ON CONSIDERATION WHEREOF, it is ordered and adjudged by Court that the judgment of the above court are reversed with costs."
  • Details of this case at SCOTUS are posted as Obergefell on our National page under LAWSUITS-RESOLVED.
Borman v. Borman

Case #: 14-CV-36
Court Level: District Court
Date Filed: 14 March 2014
Date of Appeal:

Description:

  • Frederick Borman married Larry Pyles-Borman in Iowa in August 2010. According to court documents, they separated in December 2011 while living in Roane County. Frederick Borman filed for divorce on 14 March 2014.
  • The case was argued in Roanoke County on 27 June 2014 and the judge said he would rule soon.
  • 5 August 2014, Roane County Circuit Court Judge Russell E. Simmons Jr. upheld Tennessee’s ban on marriage equality and ruled that TN 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.
  • 11 August 2014, Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog wrote commentary regarding Simmons' decision, "For the first time in nearly fourteen months, a state’s ban on same-sex marriage has withstood a constitutional challenge in court." 

Ballot Initiatives - Pending

None.

Ballot Initiatives - Passed

None.

Polls

  • 23 May 2013, the results of a Vanderbilt University poll were publicized showing that 32% of those polled supported marriage equality and 17% supported civil unions. News Source