Same-sex couples sue state

Four Tennessee same-sex couples married in other states have sued the state:

The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Nashville, says 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 U.S. Supreme Court last June struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. However, the court did not address state bans on same-sex marriage. Under the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, gay couples who are legally married in states that allow it can get the same federal benefits as married opposite sex couples.

In Tennessee, however, marriage between partners of the same gender is prohibited by state law and by a constitutional amendment approved in 2006. It says that for a marriage to be legal in the state, it must be between a man and a woman.

“All of our plaintiffs are people who were legally married in their states of residence,” said Abby Rubenfeld, an attorney for the couples. “The federal government says it’s OK … then they move to Tennessee for job purposes, for whatever, and all of a sudden their marriage isn’t recognized.”