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Plaintiffs in challenge to Tenn. same-sex marriage ban encouraged by Okla. ruling

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Supporters of marriage equality in Tennessee say they are encouraged by recent federal court rulings in Utah and Oklahoma that struck down state limits on same-sex marriage.

TennesseeAlthough the judge in Tennessee is not required to follow that lead, the attorney for four same-sex couples who have sued in the state says she thinks those other opinions will be influential.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Abby Rubenfeld said the Utah and Oklahoma rulings show that people across the country are in favor of same-sex marriage.

“It’s not just a blue-state issue,” she said. “It’s an American issue to be treated equally.”

The Tennessee Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The attorney general’s office issued a statement saying, “Nothing in these two cases changes our position that Tennessee’s laws are constitutional.”

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Gov. Bill Haslam’s spokesman Dave Smith said, “The law is clear here. Those decisions don’t affect Tennessee.”

The Tennessee case involves couples who were legally married in other states before moving here. Rubenfeld said she expects a ruling any day on a request for an injunction that would force the state to recognize the plaintiffs’ marriages while the case works its way through the courts.

If approved it would affect only the four couples who filed the lawsuit, but it would be an indication that U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger is likely to rule in their favor in the broader case.

“I so want Tennessee to be next,” Rubenfeld said. “Utah, Oklahoma, Tennessee.”

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