Roane County judge to rule on same sex divorce

Roane County judge to rule on same sex divorce

Posted:
A Roane County judge heard arguments Friday involving a same sex couple seeking a divorce. A Roane County judge heard arguments Friday involving a same sex couple seeking a divorce.
By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Roane County judge heard arguments Friday involving a same sex couple seeking a divorce. 

Tennessee does not recognize same sex marriages, but Frederick Borman and Larry Pyles were married in Iowa in 2010.

Attorney for Borman, Mark Foster, said the case is not about whether Tennessee should start performing same sex marriages but instead said it’s about whether it is constitutional for the state of Tennessee not to recognize a marriage made legal in Iowa.

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“It's sort of ironic they argue that same sex marriages should not be recognized, but they're forcing him to remain in a same sex marriage," Foster told the judge.

“The United States Supreme Court and this state's court of appeals have previously held that the full faith and credit clause does not require a state to apply another state's law in violation of its own legitimate public policy," Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Baker told the judge.

Previous story: Roane Co. same sex couple files for divorce

Baker said the state argues current Tennessee law is legal and said the state only recognizes marriage between one woman and one man.

"We believe that the Tennessee marriage laws are fully constitutional and we will await the court's decision," Baker said.

“The effect of Tennessee's law is to say, ‘We don't care whether this person is married in another state. We're just going to disregard that other state's law and disregard the United States' Constitution's fundamental right to marriage,’" Foster said.

According to the complaint filed by the Tennessee Attorney General’s office, the state argues “there is no fundamental right to same sex marriage” and said “Tennessee’s marriage laws have a rational basis.”

Foster told 6 News his client is in a “legal limbo” until a divorce is granted.

“His spouse who he's estranged from could make medical decisions if he's incapacitated,” Foster said. “If he ever wanted to get married again, he could not do that unless he gets a divorce.”

The judge adjourned court Friday and said he will file a written opinion in the case. It’s unclear how long that could take.

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