WASHINGTON — While the focus on same-sex couples' marriage rights in the nation's capital has centered around whether and when the Supreme Court will take on the issue, Val Tanco and Sophy Jesty presented another side of the story when they talked with reporters in video published Friday by the Knoxville News-Sentinel, in Knoxville, Tennessee.
"I was with a sick baby at home," Tanco said, when asked where she was when she found out that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals had reversed the trial court's decision in their case and upheld the constitutionality of Tennessee's ban on recognizing her marriage to Jesty.
"And I was at work," Jesty added, saying that Tanco had texted her with the news.
After a reporter noted that the couple — who married in New York before moving to Tennessee — was considered married by Tennessee when their daughter, Amelia, was born, the very real impact of the back-and-forth decisions of courts across the nation in the past years was made succinctly clear.
"Now, we're not married in this state, which, it's been this way for the past couple months. We were married, not married, married, not married," Jesty said. "Right now, our family remains legally divided."
"There's always hope when there's not an answer yet, so having the definite answer was sad, was hard," Tanco said of the three-month wait for the ruling from the 6th Circuit.
"My name is on her birth certificate," Jesty said of Amelia, adding, "hopefully they won't ask for that back." In light of the fact that their marriage is not recognized currently, however, she noted, "Right now, I don't have any legal rights over Amelia."
"We're dependent on the goodwill of people we don't know," Tanco said, adding, "We've had nothing but support here in Knoxville ... and I would like to think that, yes, Sophy would be allowed to make decisions for both myself and Amelia, but I would like to have the legal backup to that, I would like to be 100% sure that that's the way it is going to go."
And, though the couple laughed when asked if they had ever considered whether their case might go to the Supreme Court, there was no doubt Friday that the focus was clearly on that next step — and the national impact a decision would have.
"So many families that are in limbo or don't have rights would just immediately be taken care of by a Supreme Court decision in our favor," Jesty said.
Saying that she is "hopeful that they do take it this term," Jesty added, "otherwise we have to wait another year, and of course that's another year that we're living with our family, and Amelia's growing up, that I would really just like to have us legally recognized."
Watch the full video from Knoxville News-Sentinel:
Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.