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Federal Judge Refuses to Stay Ruling Ordering Tennessee to Recognize Marriages of Gay Plaintiffs During Court Challenge

Two weeks ago Towleroad reported on U.S. District Judge's Aleta Trauger's ruling ordering Tennessee to recognize the marriages of three same-sex couples challenging the state's ban on gay marriage while the case is underway.

TN_TancoJestyThe Attorney General appealed the ruling but now Trauger has denied that request, Buzzfeed reports:

Trauger on Thursday denied that request, concluding:

The court finds that all four factors weigh against a stay and in favor of continuing enforcement of the Preliminary Injunction. Even if the court were to accept that there is arguably a “serious question” about the merits of its constitutional analysis, the defendants have not even approached their burden to show “irreparable harm that decidedly outweighs the harm that will be inflicted on others if a stay is granted.”

Trauger's ruling appeals to only the three couples involved in the case.


Tennessee to Appeal Ruling Ordering it to Recognize Marriages of Gay Plaintiffs During Court Challenge

Tennessee's Attorney General will appeal a ruling issued last week ordering the state to recognize the marriages of three gay couples while a court challenge proceeds, the Tennesseean reports:

TN_TancoJestyOn Friday, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger issued a preliminary injunction allowing the marriage of three same-sex couples -- plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit -- to be recognized as their lawsuit against Gov. Bill Haslam and other state officials progressed.

In its argument, the AG's office points to a stay issued in a similar same-sex marriage ruling in Utah, plus says it won't irreparably harm the couples not to be recognized. The plaintiffs' attorneys particularly pointed to the plaintiffs Valeria Tanco and Sophy Jesty, who are expecting a child next week and fear the anti-recognition law could be used to deny Jesty access to her wife and child.

The couple should have used legal documents such as powers of attorney and "advanced (sic) directives" to protect themselves, the appeal says.

It also claims the state of Tennessee will be harmed by the ruling because it alters the status quo.

Read more about the case here.


Federal Court Says Tennessee Must Recognize Marriages of Gay Plaintiffs While Legal Challenge Proceeds

A U.S. District Court in Nashville today said that Tennessee officials must recognize the marriages of three gay couples who married in other states while their legal challenge, filed in October, proceeds.

Mansell_espejoNCLR reports, via press release:

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. Every federal court to have considered such a challenge since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Windsor has ruled in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

In her ruling today, U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger took note of these earlier decisions, writing: “In light of this rising tide of persuasive post-Windsor federal caselaw, it is no leap to conclude that the plaintiffs here are likely to succeed in their challenge to Tennessee’s Anti-Recognition Laws.”

TennesseeThe couples filed a federal lawsuit on October 21, 2013 alleging that Tennessee’s failure to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples 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 filed a motion in November 2013 to seek immediate protection while their case proceeds. In granting that motion today, Judge Trauger held that Tennessee’s laws prohibiting the state from acknowledging the equal dignity of the married couples’ relationships and families likely would cause them significant and irreparable harm, including because one of the couples is expecting a baby within days and urgently needs the legal protection and security of having both partners recognized as legal parents, as other married couples in Tennessee are recognized.

The couples are Dr. Valeria Tanco and Dr. Sophy Jesty of Knoxville; Army Reserve Sergeant First Class Ijpe DeKoe and Thom Kostura of Memphis; and Matthew Mansell and Johno Espejo of Franklin.

The couples are represented by attorneys Abby R. Rubenfeld of Nashville, William Harbison, Scott Hickman, Phil Cramer, and John Farringer of the law firm of Sherrard & Roe in Nashville, Maureen T. Holland of Memphis, Regina Lambert of Knoxville, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Read more about the case HERE.


Freedom to Marry Launching $1 million Campaign to Build Southern Support for Gay Marriage: VIDEO

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 11.11.42 AM

At a press conference on Monday, Freedom to Marry is expected to announce a new $1 million television ad campaign in Southern states in the hopes of swaying public opinion and the judges who will decide the fate of state bans on gay unions. As it stands, there are about two dozen lawsuits challenging bans on gay marriage that are pending before state and federal courts in Southern states. The Washington Post reports:

“Freedom to Marry’s national strategy has always been to build a critical mass of states and support to create the climate for the Supreme Court to bring the country to national resolution. We don’t have to win within every state, but we have to win enough states,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 11.13.09 AMAtlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will join the group at its Monday press conference. The group will also try to tie same-sex marriage to the civil rights movement, by featuring Rep. John Lewis [right], the longtime Georgia Democrat who ran the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in a testimonial.

“I see the right to marriage as a civil rights issue. You cannot have rights for one segment of the population and one group of people and not for everybody,” Lewis says in the video.

Watch Lewis' video for the new campaign, AFTER THE JUMP...

Co-chairs of the new initiative will include Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Reps. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), as well as Mark McKinnon, a former senior adviser to George W. Bush and Lance Bass, the ‘N Sync singer.

Continue reading "Freedom to Marry Launching $1 million Campaign to Build Southern Support for Gay Marriage: VIDEO" »


Tennessee Councilman Chris Anderson: 'They are Recalling Me Because I'm Openly Gay' - VIDEO

Chris_anderson

Chattanooga City Councilman Chris Anderson, Tennessee's first openly gay elected official, is facing a recall threat from members of his district, and Anderson says he knows why:

"They are recalling me because I'm openly gay."

WysongThe efforts are being led by a man who does not even live in Anderson's district, WRCB reports:

"Even though the petition doesn't say 'We're recalling Chris Anderson because he's gay,' it's a pretext for the real reason," said Stuart James, Anderson's attorney. James says the man driving the recall effort, Charlie Wysong, does not live in District 7. Wysong helped get the city's domestic partnership benefits ordinance on the ballot.

"It's obvious to me that he's a leader of the group. He's saying, 'That's nonsense. I'm just an advisor.' No. He's been at the election commission meeting. He's been everywhere," said James.

"I have every right to be involved in this. I am a citizen of this city," said Charlie Wysong.

Wysong says the recall has nothing to do with Anderson being gay, but for not doing his job. He says people in District 7 sought him out for advice. "Let me say this. If he was straight as an arrow, and had treated the people of this district like he's treated them, I'd be for recalling him as well," said Wysong.

Anderson has filed a lawsuit to stop the recall efforts which are underway. Organizers must collect 1,600 signatures by April 10 to put the recall on the ballot in August.

Watch WCRB's report, AFTER THE JUMP...


Tennessee Lawmaker Introduces 'Turn the Gays Away' Bill Allowing Religion-Based Discrimination: VIDEO

Turnaway

GOP state Senator Brian Kelsey (pictured, below) has introduced a bill in Tennessee, similar to ones being floated in several other states, that would allow religious-based discrimination against gays, FOX13 reports:

KelseyThe bill notes that businesses can refuse services and goods only if it furthers a civil union, domestic partnership, or same-sex marriage. The person or business would just have to say it was against their religion. For example, if a same-sex couple wanted a cake for their wedding reception, a bakery could refuse to cater to them.

Jonathan Cole of the Tennessee Equality Project says the bill is making discrimination legal.

"It's bad for business," Cole said. "It's bad for attracting talent that would be offered a job to come and work for a corporation here in Tennessee. When they see bills like this capturing the headlines, it really reflects poorly on the state."

Watch FOX13's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

A Memphis restaurant is reacting to the bills introduction with a fundraiser to unseat Kelsey:

This morning, Restaurant Iris and Second Line owner/chef Kelly English made an offer that anyone with political ambitions in Germantown's District 31 might not be able to refuse. English posted that he'll host a political fund-raiser for whoever opposes Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown in the next election.

Continue reading "Tennessee Lawmaker Introduces 'Turn the Gays Away' Bill Allowing Religion-Based Discrimination: VIDEO" »


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