(Washington, D.C., April 28, 2015)—The United States Supreme Court heard oral argument today in the landmark Tennessee marriage equality cases and cases from three other states that could bring the freedom to marry to every state across the country when the Court rules by the end of June.
The Tennessee plaintiffs 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 the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Tennessee attorneys Abby Rubenfeld, Maureen Holland, and Regina Lambert, William Harbison and other attorneys from the Nashville law firm of Sherrard & Roe PLC, and Douglas Hallward-Driemeier and other attorneys from the law firm of Ropes & Gray LLP. Hallward-Driemeier and GLAD’s Mary Bonauto argued on behalf of the plaintiffs in the four cases.
Said Tanco, who has a 1-year-old daughter with Jesty: “Sophy and I are overwhelmed and grateful to be part of this historic case. We have received so much support from our family, friends, and neighbors in Tennessee, and we are hopeful the Court will recognize the harms caused to our family and so many others by the discriminatory laws in Tennessee and other states that exclude same-sex couples from the protections of marriage.”
Said Hallward-Driemeier, who argued on behalf of the plaintiffs: “It is an incredible honor to represent these devoted couples, who have already been lawfully married and established new families, in arguing to vindicate their right to have the states respect their marriages. The plaintiffs in these cases reflect the broad array of couples, from those together for three decades to those just starting young families, and the many instances in which married couples must cross state lines to work for a new employer, give birth at the nearest hospital, or seek out new opportunities. These couples deserve the same respect and stability that states grant other married couples and their families throughout every phase of life.”
Said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter: “Today is historic and we are hopeful the Supreme Court will 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. Only the Supreme Court can resolve this conflict and affirm that the Constitution guarantees all Americans the freedom to marry and to have their marriages respected regardless of whether they live.”