Couples File Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuit Against Tennessee

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(Memphis) Four couples from around the state are suing in federal court over Tennessee laws that don't recognize their marriage.

That includes a military couple from Memphis who were married out-of-state but are not treated as a married couple here in Tennessee.

In a news conference Monday the couple says having the title helps them express their love and commitment to one another and also guarantees them legal protections as they start their lives together.

Same sex couples like this in Tennessee are considered married with all the benefits of having a spouse on a military base, but not outside base walls.

Skip Ledbetter with TN Equality Project was also in the military.

“By denying them full equal protection we are making them second class citizens in Tennessee,” said Ledbetter.

He is marrying a man in Maine next August. There it`s legal, and this lawsuit will determine if Ledbetter will still be considered married when he gets back to Tennessee.

Ledbetter says the US Supreme Courts Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act last June gives him hope.

“They cracked the door just a little bit and said full equal protection is possible, we`re just going to allow it to go to ever citizen of Tennessee, and hopefully other states are following as well,” said Ledbetter.

One of the attorneys representing one of the couples is Maureen Holland from Memphis.

Gay rights activists with the TN Equality Project say they are ready to take this lawsuit to the US Supreme Court for a ruling if needed.