(Cincinnati, OH, November 6, 2014)—In a 2-1 decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled today that state bans on the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in four states—Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio—do not violate the U.S. Constitution. Judge Martha Craig Daughtry dissented from the decision, which was authored by Judge Jeffrey Sutton.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), attorneys Abby Rubenfeld, Maureen Holland, and Regina Lambert, and the law firm of Sherrard & Roe represent three married same-sex couples from Tennessee who are challenging the state’s marriage equality ban. The 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.
Over the past few months, four other federal appeals courts have ruled in favor of marriage equality, ruling that state marriage bans in Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana, and Wisconsin are unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review those decisions. Since the Supreme Court’s decision, same-sex couples can now marry in 33 states and the District of Columbia.
Said Rubenfeld: “Today’s decision by the Sixth Circuit is deeply disappointing, inconsistent with dozens of other marriage equality decisions since Windsor, and unfair to the hundreds of LGBTQ Tennesseans who are already married to same-sex partners whom they love. We are hopeful that soon, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule that equal protection requires Tennessee, and every state, to treat same-sex couples and their children with the same respect as other families. ”
Added NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter: “Today’s ruling is out of step with the numerous federal courts, including four federal courts of appeals, that have ruled over the past year that same-sex couples and their children are entitled to the same dignity and legal protection as other families. The freedom to marry is one of the most basic rights protected by our Constitution, and one that belongs to every American, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.”