Tennessee Attorney General to appeal limited same-sex recognition ruling

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As expected, Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper Jr. and Governor Bill Haslam filed notice of an appeal and a stay on a federal judge's preliminary injunction that would recognize the same-sex marriages of three Tennessee couples currently suing the state for recognition of their out-of-state marriages.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Sharon Curtis-Flair, a spokesperson for the attorney general said, "We intend to take all necessary steps to defend the law. We have filed a motion for a stay and a notice of appeal."

Late Friday, U.S Federal District Court Judge Aleta Trauger said in an order that “all signs indicate that, in the eyes of the United States Constitution, the plaintiffs’ marriages will be placed on an equal footing with those of heterosexual couples and that proscriptions against same-sex marriage will soon become a footnote in the annals of American history.”

AG Cooper and Gov. Haslam have asked for a 21-day stay on Trauger's decision while they appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In its argument, the state's AG offices references a similar stay issued in Utah and negates irreparable harm to the plaintiffs if a stay were granted. 

One couple in suit, Dr. Valeria Tanco and Sophy Jesty from Knoxville, are expecting their first child this week. In its arguments, the State's AG office stated,  "although the Court has found the circumstances of Plaintiffs Tanco and Jesty 'particularly compelling,' their concerns regarding healthcare decisions arising from the birth of their child can be (or could have been) addressed through legal methods such as powers of attorney and advanced directives." 

The state also argues that "a stay is necessary to restore the balance pending appeal, particularly where the Court’s order is one that frustrates the will of the people of Tennessee, reflected in the State’s democratically established public policy."

Currently, the Tennessean is asking its readers whether or not they think the courts decision affects the state from following its laws. Results as of this morning are below. Find the poll and vote here.

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In 2006, 81% of Tennessee voters approved a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

For more information, see the full briefs, motions and arguments here.