Finally the anti-marriage equality folks get a favorable ruling.
For the first time in nearly fourteen months, a state’s ban on same-sex marriage has withstood a constitutional challenge in court. A state judge in Tennessee ruled last week that “neither the Federal Government nor another state should be allowed to dictate to Tennessee what has traditionally been a state’s responsibility.” The decision, issued last Tuesday, has just become available in electronic format.
Roane County Circuit Judge Russell E. Simmons, Jr., of Kingston ruled in a case of two gay men who were married four years ago in Iowa and are now seeking a divorce in their home state of Tennessee. Unlike every other court ruling — federal or state — since the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor in June 2013, the judge rejected the idea that the Windsor decision undercut state authority to ban same-sex marriages.
More than two dozen courts, from trial courts to state supreme courts and federal appeals courts, have faced that constitutional issue, and the string of decisions nullifying the bans was unbroken until the Tennessee decision.
Not being a lawyer — or an oddsmaker — I can’t really say if this means much for the overall status of marriage equality, but it sounds to me as if the judge is hanging his ruling on a weak limb: states’ rights vs. the federal constitution. But we’ll see.