Knoxville same sex couple involved in lawsuit appealing to U.S. Supreme Court

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Knoxville same sex couple involved in a lawsuit arguing for their marriage to be recognized in the state is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court. Their decision came after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the laws against same sex marriage.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel voted 2-1 Thursday to uphold same-sex marriage restrictions in Tennessee as well as Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky. The ruling followed arguments from all four states on Aug. 6 in what was the biggest hearing of its kind on the issue.

The court cited 45 percent of the country’s population already voting in favor of expanding the definition of marriage to include same sex couples. They believe it’s up to the people instead of the bench to resolve what they call a new social issue.

Those involved in the case now have the option of having the case heard by the entire 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel or taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court

Three Tennessee couples, including Knoxville residents Dr. Valeria Tanco and Dr. Sophy Jesty, are part of the case. The couple and their attorney told WATE 6 On Your Side on Friday that they are confident the case will reach the Supreme Court.

Friday night, there were about 100 people at World’s Fair Park rallying for marriage equality. The mood was far different from when many, including Jesty and Tanco, found out the decision from a federal appeals court in Cincinnati.

“I felt like the place we’re living doesn’t appreciate us fully or our relationship fully. I felt deflated. I felt disconnected from Tennessee. I didn’t like it,” said Jesty.

Jesty, Tanco, and their attorney are taking the fight to the U.S. Supreme Court. Their attorney, Regina Lambert, told WATE 6 On Your Side they expect to file the appeal in the next few weeks.

“It’s exciting now. I think I went from really disappointed yesterday to seeing that silver lining where we have this new challenge in front of us,” said Lambert.

Jesty and Tanco said they never would have believed their case would have a chance to make it to the high court.

“If we’ve gotten this far, why not keep going? This is what we’re here for. Let’s see it to the end,” said Tanco.

Now the two are relying on the Knoxville community to help them in their fight.

“When I heard the decision yesterday, I cried on my way home from work. So to me that was a really obvious indicator to me that regardless of the excitement of thinking about the Supreme Court that I just want us to be recognized as a family,” said Jesty.

The big questions now are if or when the U.S. Supreme Court might take up their case. Jesty and Tanco’s attorney told WATE 6 On Your Side she’s hoping the court will consider it for this term, which typically runs from October through June.

Their attorney also said each state from the case is submitting their own appeal. They hope to file them at the same time before the deadline of mid-January.

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