Shannon Minter Hub

Four Couples File Suit Challenging Tennessee's Gay Marriage Ban

Four gay couples filed suit in Tennessee today challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage, according to a press release from the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

TennesseeThe couples, who include a full-time Army reservist and his husband and two professors of veterinary medicine, all formerly lived and married in other states and later moved to Tennessee to pursue careers and make new homes for their families. Tennessee law currently prohibits recognition of their marriages and treats the couples as legal strangers.

The lawsuit argues that Tennessee’s laws prohibiting recognition of the couples’ marriages violates the federal Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process and the constitutionally protected right to travel between and move to other states.

The couples are Dr. Valeria Tanco and Dr. Sophy Jesty of Knoxville; Army Reserve Sergeant First Class Ijpe DeKoe and Thom Kostura of Memphis; Kellie Miller and Vanessa DeVillez of Greenbrier; and Matthew Mansell and Johno Espejo of Franklin. The couples are represented by Nashville attorneys Abby R. Rubenfeld, William Harbison, Scott Hickman, Phil Cramer and John Farringer of the law firm of Sherrard & Roe, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and attorneys Maureen T. Holland of Memphis and Regina Lambert of Knoxville.

Minter“Getting married not only enabled us to express our love and commitment to one another, but it also provided us with the protections we would need as we started our new lives together,” said Dr. Jesty, who moved to Tennessee with her wife in 2011 to accept a teaching position at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville, where her spouse also teaches. “When we moved to Tennessee, we lost those protections. Now that Val is pregnant with our first child, having those protections is more important than ever.”

Sergeant DeKoe, who served a tour of duty in Afghanistan, said: “Fairness and equality are the guiding principles of our government, and as a member of the armed forces, I have fought and will continue to fight for those principles. After returning to Memphis with Thom, I was saddened to learn that Tennessee law does not live up to those ideals in the way it treats married same-sex couples.”

Said NCLR legal director Shannon Minter (pictured): “Married couples should be able to travel and to live in any state knowing that their family is protected. Tennessee’s current law hurts same-sex couples and their children without helping anyone.”

Read the complaint HERE.

Federal Judge Blocks California Ban on 'Ex-Gay' Therapy for Minors

A federal judge has placed a block on California's recently passed SB 1172, which bans harmful "ex-gay" therapy for minors but has limited his order to three people — "psychiatrist Anthony Duk, marriage and family therapist Donald Welch, and Aaron Bitzer, a former patient who is studying to become a counselor who specializes in clients who are unhappy being gay" — until a trial can be held on the merits of their challenge.

ShubbThe AP reports:

U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb (right) made a decision just hours after a hearing on the issue, ruling that the First Amendment rights of psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals who engage in "reparative" or "conversion" therapy outweigh concern that the practice poses a danger to young people.

"Even if SB 1172 is characterized as primarily aimed at regulating conduct, it also extends to forms of (conversion therapy) that utilize speech and, at a minimum, regulates conduct that has an incidental effect on speech," Shubb wrote.

The judge also disputed the California Legislature's finding that trying to change young people's sexual orientation puts them at risk for suicide or depression, saying it was based on "questionable and scientifically incomplete studies."

MinterNCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter, Esq. released a statement in response to Shubb's ruling:

“We are disappointed by the ruling but very pleased that the temporary delay in implementing this important law applies only to the three plaintiffs who brought this lawsuit. The judge stressed that he was willing to issue the ruling in part because it is temporary and applies only to three individuals. We are confident that as the case progresses, it will be clear to the court that this law is fundamentally no different than many other laws that regulate health care professionals to protect patients. That is especially important in this case because the harms to minors are so serious, including suicide and severe depression. Every leading medical and mental health organization in the country has rejected these practices and warned that they are not only completely ineffective, but dangerous. California did the right thing by enacting this law, and we are confident the courts will find that it is not only constitutional, but vitally necessary. It is heartbreaking to think of the terrible damage that has been done to so many LGBT youth and their families, and of the lives that have been lost or destroyed because of these discredited practices.

We applaud Senator Ted Liu, the bill’s author, lead sponsor Equality California, the California Legislature, and Governor Brown for protecting these young people and their families. Governor Brown’s statement when he signed this bill is right on target: ‘This bill bans non-scientific 'therapies' that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.’”

The law, which was passed on September 29, goes into effect on January 1, 2013.

California Supreme Court Proposition 8 Hearings - WATCH

Broadcast finished. Please direct new comments to THIS POST.

Arguments Challenging Proposition 8 to Be Heard Thursday


On March 4, 2008, the Supreme Court heard arguments that ultimately lead them to the rule the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional a little more than two months later. On March 5, this Thursday, they'll again hear arguments on that topic, this time on whether Proposition 8, the voter-imposed ban on same-sex marriage, is constitutional.

Supremes The Mercury News: "The question is whether a majority of the justices will defer to popular will or, having already declared that preventing gay people from marrying was unconstitutional, will do so again. Legal experts say it is a tough call and that the court's decision, due within 90 days, will be debated for years to come...Legal experts say Proposition 8, which won 52 percent of the vote, would almost certainly stand if not for one notable fact: the marriage amendment represents the first time in California history that the constitution was changed at the ballot box to deprive a protected minority group of a right expressly carved out by the court."

Minter_starr Over the weekend, the Sacramento Bee previewed this week's face-off with a look at the attorneys on each side, Kenneth Starr and Shannon Minter — the former an erstwhile federal judge, U.S. solicitor and the lead prosecutor in the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky hearings, and the latter a transgender man who successfully argued the same-sex marriage case before the court a year ago.

The Bee reports: "Minter calls Thursday's proceedings 'much bigger' than the case last May that invalidated Proposition 22; approved in 2000, it also limited marriage to a man and a woman. 'This is now about whether a majority can take away an inalienable right from one group of Californians,' Minter said. 'If the court were to say it's OK … then no one's rights would mean very much.' Starr did not respond to interview requests. But his co-counsel, Folsom attorney Andrew Pugno, disagreed with Minter's contention that Proposition 8 should never have been on the ballot."

Here's an interview Minter gave to Towleroad at the Democratic National Convention in Denver before Proposition 8 was approved by voters:

Nationwide vigils are scheduled for Wednesday night across California. Find out more about one in your town at or Marriage Equality USA is just $18,000 short of the financing they need to secure a jumbotron for Thursdays hearings just outside the California Supreme Court.

Sean Chapin created a video about the upcoming Wednesday night events. Watch it,

Continue reading "Arguments Challenging Proposition 8 to Be Heard Thursday" »

Towleroad interviews Shannon Minter at the DNC
Attorney who Argued California Same-Sex Marriage Case

For all our coverage thus far of the Democratic National Convention, click HERE.

We also have a slideshow with images from the DNC that we've been adding to all week, HERE.

08Earlier this week, at the LGBT Caucus lunch on Monday, we were able to speak with Shannon Minter, Legal Director for National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Minter, along with San Francisco Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart, argued and oversaw the case that ultimately resulted in the 4-3 decision by the California Supreme Court, lead by Chief Justice Ronald George, to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

Minter discusses the case, as well as the challenges ahead in battling Proposition 8, the anti-gay ballot measure that would effectively ban same-sex marriage in the state.

No on Prop 8 [official site]

Michelle Obama Speaks to LGBT Delegates at Convention Lunch [tr]
Hillary Clinton Nails it at the DNC [tr]
Towleroad Talks with the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart [tr]
Congressman Barney Frank Talks to Towleroad at the DNC [tr]
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin talks to Towleroad at the DNC [tr]


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