Knoxville couple takes state's gay marriage ban to federal court

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- When Sophie Jesty and Valeria Tanco moved to Knoxville three years ago they never saw themselves as activists, but that changed when Val got pregnant with their daughter Amelia.

"One of our main concerns was the day I delivered, and Sophie being able to have power of attorney over both I and Amelia if anything were to happen," Tanco says.

A judge granted them a stay, giving them the same rights as heterosexual couples while they appeal the state of Tennessee's ban on same sex marriage.

"I still get goosebumps that Amelia's birth certificate lists us both as parents," Tanco says.

It's the little victories like this that give them hope, keep them fighting for their goal.

It's with that goal in mind that Jesty made the trip to Cincinnati this week as same-sex couples from Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee argued their case before a federal court.

"I was just so struck by how similar they all are, which to me was pretty comforting to know that we're all making our same way up the road," Jesty explains.

While they're still waiting on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a ruling in the case, they say they're encouraged by the support they saw outside the courthouse.

"It's an amazing feeling and a feeling that I don't think any of us could have imagined just five years ago," Jesty says.

It's that support that gives them hope for their daughter's generation.

"Difference isn't bad. We gain strength from our differences," Jesty says.

"Families come in so many shapes and forms these days. I think all we're trying to do is show Amelia that her's is as valid as any others," Tanco says.

They're not sure when the court will issue a ruling, but regardless of the outcome, they expect the decision to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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