Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Supreme Court to hear marriage equality cases April 28

The United State Supreme Court will hear oral argument Tuesday, April 28 in marriage equality cases from Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio.


The court announced in January that it would hear the cases; a decision in favor of same-sex marriage could see such unions become legal in all 50 states. Currently, same-sex marriage is legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia. (Such marriages had been legal in a 37th – Alabama – but earlier this week the state’s high court ordered judges to halt same-sex marriages, in defiance of federal court rulings. The status of issuing marriage licenses in the state is currently uncertain.)

The Tennessee plaintiff couples are Dr. Valeria Tanco and Dr. Sophy Jesty; Army reserve Sergeant First Class Ijpe DeKoe and Thom Kostura; and Matthew Mansell and Johno Espejo. They are represented by National Center for Lesbian Rights legal director Shannon Minter.

“Currently, same-sex couples in may states face a constitutionally intolerable situation because their home states treat them as legal strangers,” Minter said in a March 5 news release. “We hope the Supreme Court will finally bring an end to the harms that same-sex couples and their children face when they are treated with such callous disregard for their equal dignity and security as families.”

Tanco, who has an 11-month-old daughter with Jesty, said she hopes the court will recognize that her family is like other families in Tennessee.

“Even though we were married with we moved to Tennessee, Tennessee doesn’t see us as a family or give us any of the legal protections that other married couples have,” she said in the press statement issued by NCLR.

By way of background, in a 2-1 decision November 6, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld marriage bans in Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio – creating a conflict with the four other federal appeals courts that have invalidated similar state marriage bans in recent months.

NCLR noted that on November 15, its plaintiff couples asked the Supreme Court to review their case, arguing, “Breaking with the otherwise uniform view of the courts of appeals, a divided panel of the 6th Circuit upheld Tennessee’s Non-Recognition Laws.

“The court of appeals’ holding not only denies recognition to petitioners’ own marriages and families, but also establishes a checkerboard nation in which same-sex couples’ marriages are dissolved and re-established as they travel across the country. That is the antithesis of the stability that marriage is supposed to afford,” NCLR’s statement read.

A decision by the Supreme Court is expected in late June or early July.

— Cynthia Laird, March 5, 2015 @ 11:00 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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