Legally Married Same-Sex Couples File Lawsuit in Tennessee

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This morning, four same-sex couples, all of which were legally married in states that allow gay marriage, filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Nashville challenging state laws that prevent Tennessee from recognizing their marriages. One of those couples and one of the attorneys involved is from Memphis.

The lawsuit argues that Tennessee's laws prohibiting the recognition of these marriages is a violation of the Constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Ijpe DeKoe, an Army Reserve sergeant, and Thom Kostura are the couple from Memphis. The other couples are Dr. Valeria Tanco and Dr. Sophy Jesty of Knoxville, Kellie Miller and Vanessa DeVillez of Greenbrier, and Matthew Mansell and Johno Espejo of Franklin.

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

"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," said DeKoe, who served a tour of duty in Afghanistan. “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.”

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