Recognition of same-sex unions in Tennessee
|Legal recognition of
The U.S. state of Tennessee does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships at the statewide level.
Currently there is no recognition of domestic partnerships at the statewide level in Tennessee. However, private domestic partnership contracts agreements can be formed. Governor Bill Haslam and State House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick both said there wasn't a huge demand for domestic partnerships in Tennessee.
On November 12, 2013, the Chattanooga City Council voted 5-4 in favor of allowing domestic partnership benefits for same-sex couples in the city of Chattanooga. On November 19, 2013, the city council in a final vote, voted 5-3 in favor of allowing domestic partnership benefits.
Before the domestic partnership ordinance went into effect, the Citizens for Government Accountability and Transparency, a local segment of the Tea Party, gathered enough signatures to put repeal of the ordinance to a popular vote in August 2014. The city council did not repeal the ordinance on its own, allowing the vote to proceed on August 7, the general election date for Hamilton County.
A December 2013 Multi-Quest poll found that 53% Chattanooga registers voters opposed the city ordinance allowing domestic partnerships and adding sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the city’s nondiscrimination policy, while 37% supported.
Tennessee does not permit the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The state forbids, both by statute and in its constitution, the recognition of same-sex marriages and other forms of same-sex partnership solemnized in other jurisdictions. The constitutional amendment defining marriage was approved by 81% of voters in a referendum in November 2006.
In March 2013, Tennessee Senate voted 32-0 in favor of the resolution SJR 134, which makes August 31 "Traditional Marriage Day" in Tennessee. In April 2013, the Tennessee House of Representatives voted 89-0 in favor of the resolution. In May 2013, Governor Bill Haslam signed the resolution into law.
On October 21, 2013, four Tennessee same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit, Tanco v. Haslam, seeking to require Tennessee to recognize their marriages. They argued that the state's policy constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and violates their rights to due process and equal protection, as well as their right to travel. One of the couples married in California in 2008 and the other three married in New York in 2011. They contended that Tennessee's refusal to recognize their marriages was a unique departure from its rule that "a marriage valid where celebrated is valid everywhere". The suit named as defendants Governor William Haslam and 3 other state officials.
A May 2013 poll by Vanderbilt University survey of Tennessee registered voters found that 49% of Tennessee voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 32% supporting same-sex marriage, 17% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 46% favoring no legal recognition, 3% said they don't know, and 2% refused to answer. It also found that 69% of Tennessee voters under the age of 30 supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples. A separate question on the same survey found that 62% of Tennessee voters supported domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples, 31% opposed, 4% said they don't know, and 2% refused to answer.
- LGBT rights in Tennessee
- Tennessee Equality Project
- Status of same-sex marriage
- Timeline of same-sex marriage
- "Domestic Partnerships". She Moskovitz & Mcghee.
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- "Knoxville expanding employee benefits to same-sex, domestic partners". WBIR. October 17, 2013.
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- New York Times: Monica Davey, "The 2006 Elections: Ballot Initiatives," November 9, 2006, accessed April 9, 2011
- "SJR 134". Open:States.
- "4 same-sex couples sue Tennessee over gay marriage". USA Today. October 21, 2013. Retrieved Januarty 16, 2014.
- Hollingsworth, Barbara (November 21, 2013). "Gay Couples Ask Federal Court To Force Tennessee To Issue Them Marriage Licenses". CNS News. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
- "Complaint, October 21, 2013". National Center for Lesbian Rights. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
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- "END OF LEGISLATIVE SESSION 2013". Vanderbilt University. May 14, 2013.