Four same-sex couples filed a lawsuit [comlaint, PDF] on Monday challenging the Tennessee laws that prohibit recognition of their marriages. The federal lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of Tennessee's "Anti-Recognition" laws, which prohibit the state from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples lawfully entered into in other jurisdictions. The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) [advocacy website], which filed on behalf of the four legally married same-sex couples, argues that Tennessee's laws violate the federal constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process and the constitutionally protected right to travel between and move to other states. The complaint, relying on the recent Supreme Court ruling in US v. Windsor [JURIST report] which reaffirmed that congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot justify disparate treatment, argues that the "principal purpose and the necessary effect of the Anti-Recognition laws are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage." "Married couples should be able to travel and live in any state knowing that their family is protected," NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter stated [press release]. "Tennessee's current law hurts same-sex couples and their children without helping anyone."
The heated debate regarding same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing [JURIST op-ed] issues currently facing the US legal community. On Monday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie dropped his legal challenge [JURIST report] to same-sex marriage, making New Jersey the 14th state to allow gay marriage. On Tuesday lawyers for two Portland same-sex couples filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the District of Oregon [official website] challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Earlier this week Buncombe County Register of Deeds [official website] Drew Reisinger began accepting [JURIST report] marriage license applications from same-sex couples and requested review of the decision from North Carolina's Attorney General. A 2012 amendment to North Carolina's Constitution currently bans same-sex marriage [JURIST report]. Last month Michigan's Treasury Department ruled [JURIST report] that same-sex spouses must file separate tax returns. Also last month a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio expanded a lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking the recognition of same-sex spouses on death certificates.