On Jan. 16, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments in four landmark cases concerning whether the fundamental right to marry can be denied to same-sex couples. One of the granted petitions was filed on behalf of three Tennessee couples by Ropes & Gray, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and several Tennessee firms.
The petitioners in Tanco v. Haslam were all lawfully married while living in other states, and they sought recognition of their marriages by Tennessee when the couples moved to the State for reasons related to their employment. Although the District Court ordered the State to recognize the plaintiffs’ marriages, the Sixth Circuit reversed, becoming the first court of appeals to uphold a ban on recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples following the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor. Ropes & Gray then joined with the NCLR and other Tennessee co-counsel to seek Supreme Court review. On Jan. 16, the Court granted the Tennessee petition, as well as petitions from plaintiffs in other states within the Sixth Circuit, to decide both whether a state may deny same-sex couples the right to marry and whether the state may refuse to recognize existing marriages of same-sex couples.
The Ropes & Gray team is being led by appellate and Supreme Court litigation partner Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, who said, “This is a historic moment, and we are delighted to be representing three wonderful couples in this landmark case.”
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