The United States Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in marriage equality cases from Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio for April 28, according to a press release issued around 11 a.m. today by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the organization among those representing plaintiffs in the Tennessee case.
The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision in the cases by the end of June.
Tennessee plaintiff couples are Dr. Valeria Tanco and Dr. Sophy Jesty; Army Reserve Sgt. First Class Ijpe DeKoe and Thom Kostura; and Matthew Mansell and Johno Espejo.
They are represented by Shannon Minter, Christopher F. Stoll and David C. Codell with NCLR, along with Tennessee attorneys Abby Rubenfeld, Maureen Holland and Regina Lambert, William Harbison and other attorneys from the law firm of Sherrard & Roe PLC, and Douglas Hallward-Driemeier and other attorneys from the law firm of Ropes & Gray LLP.
Tanco, who has an 11-month-old daughter with Jesty, said, “We’re hopeful the court will recognize that our family is like other families in Tennessee. Even though we were married when we moved to Tennessee, Tennessee doesn’t see us as a family or give us any of the legal protections that other married couples have. We are grateful to have this chance to explain to the court why this discrimination hurts us and our daughter.”
Minter, legal director for NCLR, said, “Currently, same-sex couples in many states face a constitutionally intolerable situation because their home states treat them as legal strangers. Every day, legally married same-sex couples are forced to give up the status and protections of marriage as the price of traveling or moving to a state that excludes them from marriage.
“No family should be stripped of legal recognition simply by crossing a state,” Minter continued. “We hope the Supreme Court will finally 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.”
In a 2-1 decision issued Iast Nov. 6, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld marriage bans in Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio. It is the only federal appellate court to rule against marriage equality since the Supreme Court’s June 2013 ruling in U.S. v Windsor striking down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.
The Supreme Court had declined to review several federal appeals court decisions striking down marriage bans in five states on Oct. 6. That decision affected states in the same federal circuits, leading marriage equality in 37 states and the District of Columbia. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in marriage equality cases from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi but has yet to issue a decision.