Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lesbian partner's name on Tennessee birth certificate could prove temporary

Valeria Tanco (L) & Sophy Jesty with their newborn daughter
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Wade Payne
STAFF REPORTS | KNOXVILLE (Reuters) -- A baby girl whose parents are part of a same-sex federal lawsuit in Tennessee is the first child born in the state to have a woman listed on the birth certificate as her "father."
Emilia Maria Jesty was born last month just after U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger issued the preliminary injunction barring the state from enforcing laws prohibiting recognition of her mothers' marriages.
In her written memorandum, Judge Trauger made clear that her order is only temporary and only applies to the three same-sex couples.
Valeria Tanco and Sophy Jesty got married in New York in 2011 and now live in Knoxville, where they teach at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.
They are among scores of same-sex couples who, working with advocacy groups, have filed lawsuits to expand gay-marriage rights following a major U.S. Supreme Court decision last June allowing federal tax and other benefits for same-sex married couples. 
The state has appealed to the 6th Circuit and dependent on the outcome of the appellate court's ruling, it is expected that Tanco and Jesty's case or a similar challenge could reach the Supreme Court.
“It’s the first nail in the coffin of discriminating against same-sex married couples in Tennessee,” said Abby Rubenfeld, one of the attorneys for the same-sex couples. “Every single court that has considered these same issues has ruled the same way.”
It is possible a ruling against the couple could void Emilia's birth certificate and require that it be reissued with only Tanco listed. A spokeswoman for Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the state Health Department, which oversees birth certificates.
The head of a conservative organization that intervened in the lawsuit said Trauger’s decision thwarts the will of 80 percent of Tennesseans who voted to support a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
“While today’s decision by federal Judge Trauger is not a final ruling, she has clearly signaled her intent to continue the war by unelected federal judges against the rights of states and the citizens of that state to determine what its policies regarding marriage should be,” David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee said in an emailed statement.
Compiled from staff and wire service reports