A local judge in Tennessee says he will not grant a divorce to a straight couple because of gay marriage.
Thomas and Pamela Bumgardner were wed in November 2002. The couple have no children together and filed for divorce in September 2014 because of “irreconcilable differences.”
But Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton denied the couple’s request for a divorce last week after hearing from seven witnesses over the course of four days and going through more than 75 exhibits, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.
Atherton reasons that the Supreme Court needs to clarify “when a marriage is no longer a marriage.”
“The conclusion reached by this court is that Tennesseans have been deemed by the U.S. Supreme Court to be incompetent to define and address such keystone/central institutions such as marriage, and, thereby, at minimum, contested divorces,” Atherton wrote in his judgment.
In other words, the judge believes SCOTUS changed the definition of marriage when it ruled in favor of nationwide marriage equality earlier this summer, therefore it must also change the definition of divorce, and until then he won’t allow anyone, same- or opposite sex, to end their unions.
When asked what exactly the couple should do now that they can’t get divorced, Atherton shrugged and said:
“Hopefully, they can reconcile.”