A court ruling Friday could eventually lead to re-defining marriage in Tennessee. A federal judge says that the marriages of three same-sex couples must be recognized in Tennessee while their lawsuit against the state works its way through the court system.
This ruling by U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger only applies to those three couples, as Trauger issued a preliminary injunction barring Tennessee from enforcing state laws that prohibit recognition of their marriages.
The couples married in states that recognized same-sex marriage but encountered problems in Tennessee, a state that bans same-sex marriage, so they filed a federal lawsuit in October 2013.
In her ruling Friday, Trauger wrote, "At this point, all signs indicate that, in the eyes of the United States Constitution, the plaintiffs' marriages will be placed on an equal footing with those of heterosexual couples and that proscriptions against same-sex marriage will Soon become a footnote in the annals of American history."
Advocates for same-sex marriage celebrated the ruling.
"We think this opens the door for further challenges, and it's just phase one. You know, we've already got couples asking us, 'What about us? We were married in another state.' Those challenges will come, and those opportunities will come. I don't believe anybody's going to be left out," said Chris Sanders, with the Tennessee Equality Project.
In Tennessee, marriage between partners of the same gender is prohibited by state law and by a constitutional amendment approved in 2006.
Trauger's ruling did not call that unconstitutional, but Sanders said in several other states this was the first step, so to speak, in courts overturning a state's ban on same-sex marriage.
Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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