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Press Release

Marriage

NCLR Responds to Tennessee Officials Opposing Request for Supreme Court Review of Marriage Case

(Nashville, TN, December 15, 2014)—Today, State of Tennessee officials filed a brief opposing three same-sex couples’ request for the United States Supreme Court to review a federal appeals court decision upholding Tennessee’s ban on marriage equality.

In a 2-1 decision on Nov. 6, 2014, the Sixth Circuit 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. The U.S. Supreme Court on October 6, 2014 declined to review the other four federal appeals court decisions. Since the Supreme Court’s decision, same-sex couples can now marry in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

On Nov. 15, 2014 the Tennessee couples asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case. The Tennessee couples are Dr. Valeria Tanco and Dr. Sophy Jesty of Knoxville; Army Reserve Sergeant First Class Ijpe DeKoe and Thom Kostura of Memphis; and Matthew Mansell and Johno Espejo of Franklin. Today’s decision follows their request that the Supreme Court hear the case to ensure that the marriages of same-sex couples are treated equally across the country.

The couples are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Tennessee attorneys Abby Rubenfeld, Maureen Holland, and Regina Lambert, and the law firms of Sherrard & Roe PLC and Ropes & Gray LLP.

Statement by NCLR Senior Staff Attorney Christopher F. Stoll, Esq.:

“The State of Tennessee agrees that the Sixth Circuit’s decision is in direct conflict with the decisions of four other federal courts of appeals that have ruled in favor of the freedom to marry. Only the Supreme Court can resolve this conflict and affirm that the Constitution guarantees all Americans the freedom to marry. We hope the Supreme Court will grant review and decide the case this term so that Tennessee and the other 14 remaining states can join the large majority of states that now allow same-sex couples to marry.”

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