Four gay and lesbian couples approached county clerks' offices in Shelby, Davidson and Wilson Counties Wednesday to apply for a marriage license.
Each couple was turned down, but none were surprised. In fact, that was the idea.
The couples were taking the necessary first step toward a possible legal challenge of Tennessee's constitutional amendment that defines a legal marriage as "the relationship of one man and one woman." In order to challenge the amendment, someone has to claim his or her rights were denied.
The actions were a response to a call from the Tennessee Equality Project to recruit GLBT couples interested in applying for marriage licenses in Tennessee. In a July 31 Facebook post, TEP officials claimed "the time has come."
In a response to the application in Davidson County, Family Action Council of Tennessee Director David Fowler pointed out the Tennessee Marriage Protection Amendment was approved by an overwhelming majority (81%) of the state's voters in 2006. "The issue that arose today was whether the clear will of 81% of Tennessee's voters would be circumvented because a small minority disagree."
In an email to WUOT, Tennessee Equality Project Director Chris Sanders said members of the organization will "be glad to coach anyone through the process as part of a coordinated strategy to bring down TN's marriage discrimination amendment."