(Case No. 05-1010-IV, Chancery Court for Davidson County, Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle and Case No. M2006–00460–SC–RDM–CV, Supreme Court of Tennessee at Nashville, Chief Justice William M. Barker delivered the opinion of the court, in which Justices E. Riley Anderson, Adolpho A. Birch, Jr., Janice M. Holder, and Cornelia A. Clark, joined.)
ACLU-TN Cooperating Attorneys: Abby Rubenfeld of Rubenfeld Law Office and Anne C. Martin of Bone McAllester Norton
Plaintiffs: ACLU-TN; the Tennessee Equality Project; Representatives Larry Turner, Beverly Robison Marrero, and Tommie Brown; Bruce Barry; Scott and Jon Hines; Renee Kasman; Nina Pacent
Defendants: Riley C. Darnell, Tennessee Secretary of State; Brook K. Thompson, Coordinator of Elections; Paul G. Summers, Tennessee Attorney General; John S. Wilder, Tennessee Speaker of the House
On February 2, 2005, Tennessee state legislators introduced a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution that would define marriage as a contract between one man and one woman.
On April 21, 2005, ACLU-TN filed a lawsuit challenging this so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment,” charging that the state failed to meet notification requirements as outlined in the Tennessee Constitution.
ACLU-TN filed the lawsuit on behalf of ACLU members; the Tennessee Equality Project; State Representatives Larry Turner, Beverly Robison Marrero and Tommie Brown; and a number of private citizens.
The case sought declaratory relief and an injunction to prevent the Tennessee Secretary of State and the Tennessee State Division of Elections from placing on the amendment on the 2006 ballot.
Shortly after the case was filed, the Alliance Defense Fund intervened on behalf of 91 state legislators.
The Chancery Court dismissed the case on summary judgment, finding in favor of the defendants. Plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal and a motion in the Tennessee Supreme Court asking them to take the case on direct and expedited appeal, bypassing the Court of Appeals. The Tennessee Supreme Court granted the request and placed the case on an expedited calendar.
On July 14, 2006, the court upheld the lower court’s decision, finding that the plaintiffs lacked standing.
The “Marriage Protection Amendment” remained a part of the Tennessee Constitution until the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage on June 26, 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges.
American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee v. Darnell – Complaint (April 21, 2005)
Plaintiff’s Memorandum in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (December 2, 2005)
American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee v. Darnell – Tennessee Supreme Court Opinion (July 14, 2006)