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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 21 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 12
Tennessee appeals marriage ruling
Section One
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Tennessee appeals marriage ruling

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Attorney General of Tennessee has appealed the March 14 ruling of a federal judge that would have compelled the state to recognize Gay and Lesbian marriages from other jurisdictions.

Attorney general Robert Cooper filed the appeal - and a demand for a stay of the judge's ruling - on March 18.

'We intend to take all necessary steps to defend the law. We have filed a motion for a stay and a notice of appeal,' said Sharon Curtis-Flair, spokesperson for Cooper's office.

Federal District Judge Aleta A. Trauger ordered state officials to recognize the marriages of three same-sex couples who had been married in other states and subsequently moved to Tennessee.

The couples are Dr. Valeria Tanco and Dr. Sophy Jesty, who are now University of Tennessee professors; Army Reserve Sergeant First Class Ijpe DeKoe and his husband, fine arts graduate student Thom Kostura; and Matthew Mansell and Johno Espejo, who were married in San Francisco and then moved to Tennessee for work.

The couples filed suit with assistance from the National center for Lesbian Rights in October 2013.

In considering the request for a preliminary injunction preventing Tennessee from enforcing the discriminatory law, Judge Trauger wrote that 'all relevant federal authority indicates that the plaintiffs in this case are indeed likely to prevail on their claims that the Anti-Recognition Laws are unconstitutional.'

The plaintiffs, she noted, filed the case only on their own behalf, so the temporary ruling affects only the state's treatment of the three couples.

Trauger added that at some point in the future, probably after further rulings, 'in the eyes of the United States Constitution, the plaintiffs' marriages will be placed on equal footing with those of heterosexual couples and ... proscriptions against same-sex marriage will soon become a footnote in the annals of American history.'

'Tennessee now joins several other states-including Utah, Oklahoma, Ohio, Virginia, Illinois, Kentucky, and Texas-in which a federal court has ruled that states must allow same-sex couples to marry or recognize the marriages of couples who married in other states since the Supreme Court's ruling last June requiring the federal government to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples,' the National Center for Lesbian Rights said in a statement.

Same-sex marriages are now being performed by 17 US states, eight Native tribes, and the District of Columbia. Federal District Courts in four additional states have found bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, with appeals pending in US Circuit Courts.

In one state - Nevada - the District Court ruled against same-sex marriage, but the Circuit Court is expected to reverse the lower court's finding.

As a result of USA v. Windsor, the federal government now recognizes same-sex marriages, and three states are now under court order to recognize marriages performed in other jurisdictions. #30#

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