WASHINGTON (AP/WMOT) — A mid-state constitutional law expert says the Supreme Court's rulings concerning gay marriage will have little immediate impact here in Tennessee.
In the first of Wednesday’s rulings, the court decided by a narrow 5-to-4 margin to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to gay married couples. In the second ruling, also decided 5-to-4, the justices left in place a finding by a trial court that California's Proposition 8 -- banning same-sex marriage -- is unconstitutional.
Dr. John Vile, a Constitutional law expert at Middle Tennessee State University, says the rulings are surprisingly conservative, leaving the question of what constitutes marriage to the states.
“What it does say is that if Tennessee were to recognize gay marriage, then the national government would have to follow along with respect to that decision. But it doesn’t – as I understand it – force the state to do so.”
A state-wide poll conducted by MTSU earlier this year determined that 61 percent of Tennesseans are opposed to gay marriage with 24 percent in favor. Nationwide just 43 percent are opposed with 48 percent in favor.