It was bound to happen eventually, and last week it finally did: a judge in Tennessee ruled in favor of that state's marriage discrimination amendment, breaking equality supporters' fourteen-month winning streak.
For the first time in nearly fourteen months, a state's ban on same-sex marriage has withstood a constitutional challenge in court. A state judge in Tennessee ruled last week that "neither the Federal Government nor another state should be allowed to dictate to Tennessee what has traditionally been a state's responsibility." The decision, issued last Tuesday, has just become available in electronic format.
Roane County Circuit Judge Russell E. Simmons, Jr., of Kingston ruled in a case of two gay men who were married four years ago in Iowa and are now seeking a divorce in their home state of Tennessee. Unlike every other court ruling -- federal or state -- since the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor in June 2013, the judge rejected the idea that the Windsor decision undercut state authority to ban same-sex marriages.
More than two dozen courts, from trial courts to state supreme courts and federal appeals courts, have faced that constitutional issue, and the string of decisions nullifying the bans was unbroken until the Tennessee decision.
Although Judge Simmons's decision was limited to cases involving a divorce when the marriage itself is not recognized, he ruled in sweeping terms. He relied in part upon the Supreme Court's summary decision in 1972 rejecting a constitutional challenge to a Minnesota ban, concluding that the Justices have never abandoned that ruling.
Like I said, disappointing but not at all unexpected. There will always be someone trying vainly to swim against the tide of history...