Judge declines divorce case, citing gay marriage ruling

Jeff Atherton speaks in the Hamilton County Courthouse in this file photo.

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A local judge contends the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage has derailed Tennessee's ability to determine what constitutes divorce - leaving one Signal Mountain couple married against their will.

Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton denied the divorce petition last week after hearing from seven witnesses and going through 77 exhibits. Among several reasons he cited in rejecting the couple's divorce, one was the Supreme Court's June ruling.

Atherton said the Supreme Court must clarify "when a marriage is no longer a marriage." Otherwise, he contended, state courts are impaired from addressing marriage and divorce litigation altogether.