Same-sex couple denied marriage license in Hamblen County

MORRISTOWN—In the past few weeks, marriage equality has come to surrounding Tennessee states while Tennessee same-sex couples continue to wait for a ruling from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which could strike down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

On Thursday, Oct. 16, Matt Griffin and Raymie Wolfe applied for a Tennessee marriage license at the Hamblen County Clerk’s Office in Morristown. The couple was denied the license due to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The couple stated that the only thing preventing them from being equal “is a 45-minute drive to North Carolina.” Griffin and Wolfe said they will wait until the law changes in Tennessee so they can be married in their home state.

According to a press release statement by the Campaign for Southern Equality, Reverend Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director for the campaign, said that “families cannot keep waiting for the freedom to marry.”

“You shouldn’t have to leave your hometown to marry the person you love,” said Beach-Ferrara. “And yet, this is the reality that same-sex couples in Tennessee face. It is time for all couples to be treated equally in Tennessee and across the South, because your zip code should not determine your freedoms, dignity or value as a human being.”

In the 2010 Census data, 10,898 same-sex couples reside in Tennessee. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last year, LGBT individuals across the South still lack basic legal protections in the areas of employment, housing and family rights. As a result, LGBT individuals and families in Tennessee feel compelled to publicly call for equal rights under both federal and state laws.

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