Opinion: My Experience at the Capital Queer Women’s Summit
May 29, 2015
Caitlyn Jenner on Vanity Fair
Video: Bruce Jenner Says “Call Me Caitlyn”
June 1, 2015

Supreme Couple Shares Hopes, Vision, and Outcomes for Marriage Equality

Sophy Jesty and Valeria Tanco

Dr. Sophy Jesty, left, and Dr. Valeria Tanco are one of four same-sex couples who have filed a lawsuit in Tennessee to recognize their marriage. (SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

When Dr. Valeria Tanco and Dr. Sophy Jesty started this journey, they never imagined their case would be taken all the way to the Supreme Court; they were thinking about their 1-year-old daughter and the ability to make legal decisions for her—an ability which rest largely in the hands of laws that mitigate same-sex couple adoption rights. From custody to medical decisions, same sex couples face many complicated battles in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage.

“So many things had to happen in a perfect way for our case to end up in the Supreme Court. It wasn’t until the Sixth Circuit ruling that we really thought it was a strong possibility,” says Jesty. “We didn’t set out to be some sort of history making couple,” adds Tanco. “It just turned out that way because of how the circuit ruled.”

The couple was first married in New York state where marriage is legalized, and like many couples, they dreamed of working close to one another and starting a family. When the University of Tennessee, Knoxville offered them both positions in their respective specialties, the couple moved to Tennessee, where Tanco gave birth to their baby girl. After much consideration, the couple joined two other same-sex couples and filed a motion to challenge Tennessee’s laws regarding same-sex marriage and the recognition of legal marriages performed in other states.

“It was an eye opening experience for sure because we didn’t really understand how these things worked,” says Jesty. Although it’s been a long road to the Supreme Court, she adds, “I hope we are doing good by our family and families like ours.”

Though navigating the political landscape may seem like a daunting task, both Jesty and Tanco are honored to carry the torch. “We are very honored being the ones representing so many people,” says Jesty. “It gives us tremendous strength to realize how many people are standing behind us.”

Many LGBTQ leaders and advocates convened on the steps of the Supreme Court on April 28 to cheer the plaintiffs on as they stated their case and made their mark on the marriage equality movement.

“It was really an honor because everywhere we go, we have gotten nothing but positive support,” reflects Tanco. As they continue to travel and interact with others on their journey, they have been met with overwhelming encouragement and positivity, which assures the couple that they are following the right path.

For Tanco and Jesty, a positive outcome would mean equal protection under the law for them and their daughter. “It means peace of mind,” says Tanco. “For the community, it also means that we’re not treated as second class citizens.”

If the Supreme Court rules favorably, LGBTQ families and children born or adopted into those families will be protected under the full scope of the law, a protection that is automatically afforded to many straight couples.

The Supreme Court is set to deliver a verdict in late June. Both Tanco and Jesty are cautiously optimistic and hope for a positive outcome.

Listen to the interview on Tagg Nation Podcast: