Federal Judge Refuses To Stay Decision Recognizing 3 Same-Sex Marriages In Tennessee


Last week, a federal judge ordered that Tennessee must recognize the marriages of three same-sex couples as their suit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage proceeds. The state appealed, asking for a stay of that injunction, but the judge was unconvinced. Judge Aleta Trauger denied the appeal Thursday, telling Tennessee state officials that there was no way recognizing three couples’ marriages would cause the state irreparable harm:

The court’s injunction merely precludes Tennessee (at least temporarily) from enforcing its Anti-Recognition Laws against just three couples in Tennessee. of course, if this court’s conclusion that the plaintiffs will likely succeed in their challenge to the Anti-Recognition Laws turns out to be wrong, the State may have suffered some small affront to its sovereignty by being forced to recognize three particular same-sex marriages for a short period of time. That harm, even if arguably “irreparable,” would not be substantial, and that harm is unlikely to occur in the first place, because the plaintiffs are likely to succeed. By contrast, as explained in the court’s previous opinion, the harms to the plaintiffs from continued enforcement of the Anti-Recognition Laws would be substantial and irreparable. The court finds no reason to revisit that determination.

Trauger points out that courts have unanimously supported same-sex couples challenging state marriage bans since the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, and she already seems persuaded that she could rule in the same fashion.

Earlier this week, a federal judge in neighboring Kentucky did issue a stay on a ruling that would have required that state to recognize all same-sex marriages from other states.