A judge in Tennessee has dismissed a divorce case, saying the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage has negated his state’s ability to define divorce.
Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Altherton wrote in his decision that he cannot grant Thomas and Pamela Bumgardner’s divorce because Obergefell v. Hodges redefines the rules for marriage, and thus the rules for divorce.
The current legal situation “leaves a mere trial level Tennessee state court judge in a bit of a quandary,” Chancellor Atherton wrote in his ruling.
“With the U.S. Supreme Court having defined what must be recognized as a marriage, it would appear that Tennessee’s judiciary must now await the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court as to what is not a marriage, or better stated, when a marriage is no longer a marriage,” he added.
After four days of testimony making the case for the Bumgardner’s mutual reasoning of “irreconcilable differences” for their divorce, Mr. Atherton concluded that marriage is not “irretrievably broken” and can be saved.
Regina Lambert, the attorney who represented the plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges, told the Chattanooga Times that Chancellor Atherton’s decision was just a “statement.”
“Overall, Tennessee has had a fantastic response to this Supreme Court decision,” Ms. Lambert said. “He is just making a statement. I think change is hard for people.”