Note: This story was last updated at 4:30 p.m.
Roane County issued its first same-sex marriage license on Friday afternoon, just a few hours after the U.S. Supreme Court backed gay marriage in a landmark 5-4 ruling.
The Roane County license was issued to two women at about 3 p.m. Friday, Roane County Clerk Barbara Anthony said. She said she can’t identify the two women.
Anthony declined to comment on the Supreme Court’s decision, which was celebrated in some circles and criticized in others.
“We just comply with the law,” Anthony said.
An email from the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office advised county clerks that the ruling today (Friday, June 26) made it legal for same-sex couples to marry. Implementing the federal court’s decision began immediately.
Anthony said the Roane County Clerk hasn’t typically had many requests for same-sex weddings, but the office has had several calls after today’s ruling.
WBIR-TV reported from Nashville that Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said state officials were disappointed by Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision but would comply, and county clerks in the state’s 95 counties had been advised to comply promptly.
In a press conference in Nashville, Slatery said the court’s decision went directly against Tennessee voter sentiment, WBIR reported. In 2006, Tennessee voters approved a state constitutional amendment by a margin of more than 81 percent declaring that marriage could only exist between a man and a woman.
“The people of Tennessee have recently voted clearly on this issue,” Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said. “The Supreme Court has overturned that vote. We will comply with the decision and will ensure that our departments are able to do so as quickly as possible.”
Oak Ridge Today has not been able to reach Anderson County Clerk Jeff Cole for comment.
Here’s a short summary of the Supreme Court case, which included petitioners from Tennessee, including two from Knoxville:
OBERGEFELL ET AL. v. HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL.
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
No. 14–556. Argued April 28, 2015—Decided June 26, 2015*
Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The petitioners, 14 same-sex couples and two men whose same-sex partners are deceased, filed suits in Federal District Courts in their home States, claiming that respondent state officials violate the Fourteenth Amendment by denying them the right to marry or to have marriages lawfully performed in another State given full recognition. Each District Court ruled in petitioners’ favor, but the Sixth Circuit consolidated the cases and reversed.
Held: The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.
See the U.S. Supreme Court decision here.
See the Tennessee petitioners’ complaint from U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville here: Tanco v. Haslam.
The Tennessee plaintiffs were married same-sex couples who moved to the Volunteer State after they legally married in another state, but their marriages were not recognized here. The plaintiffs were Valeria Tanco and Soppy Jesty of Knoxville, Ijpe DeKoe and Thomas Kostura of Memphis, Kellie Miller and Vanessa DeVillez of Greenbrier, and Johno Espejo and Matthew Mansell of Franklin. The first three couples were married in New York and the last one in California.
See newer story here with information on the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Roane County.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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