ACLU-TN to Honor Supreme Court Marriage Equality Plaintiffs and Attorneys

Charles Grant to Receive ACLU’s Attorney Award

Affiliate: ACLU of Tennessee
June 23, 2015 12:00 pm


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NASHVILLE – The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee will honor the Tennessee plaintiffs and attorneys involved in the Tanco v. Haslam marriage equality case now before the United States Supreme Court at its September 30 Bill of Rights Celebration.

Tanco v. Haslam challenges Tennessee’s refusal to recognize the out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples. The honorees include Valeria Tanco and Sophy Jesty of Knoxville; Ijpe DeKoe and Thom Kostura of Memphis; and Matthew Mansell and Johno Espejo of Franklin; as well as their attorneys, Abby Rubenfeld of Rubenfeld Law Office; William L. Harbison, Phillip F. Cramer, J. Scott Hickman and John L. Farringer IV of Sherrard & Roe, PLC; Maureen T. Holland of Holland & Associates, PC; and Regina M. Lambert, Esq.

“These honorees have made an extraordinary effort to ensure that same-sex couples and the commitments they make to each other receive the same dignity and protections as everyone else,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN executive director. “They are being honored with ACLU-TN’s Bill of Rights Award for their courage, strength and tenacity in standing up for recognition and respect, not only for their own marriages, but for the marriages of all couples.”

The United States Supreme Court will issue a decision in several marriage equality cases, including Tanco v. Haslam, before July 4. The ACLU of Tennessee will honor the Tennessee-based plaintiffs and attorneys for their efforts regardless of the Supreme Court’s ultimate decision. In addition to the Tennesseans being honored, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Douglas H. Hallward-Driemeier of Ropes & Gray LLP played an instrumental role in the Tanco case.

This year’s celebration will also honor Charles K. Grant with its 2015 Bruce Kramer Cooperating Attorney Award, which celebrates attorneys working for the protection and advancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The award was established by the late Lucius Burch, a prominent Memphis attorney.

“Charles’s extensive pro bono work on the restoration of voting rights has had a monumental impact on Tennessee,” Weinberg said. “Charles tirelessly provides assistance to Tennesseans to win back their voting rights while also pursuing systemic change to ensure access to the ballot box.”

In recognition of the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act, Dale Ho, director of the national ACLU Voting Rights Project, will deliver the keynote speech at the event.

The ACLU of Tennessee is the only state-wide organization dedicated to protecting and promoting civil liberties and civil rights. ACLU pursues its mission through advocacy, public education, legislative lobbying and litigation. Recent work includes lobbying for sentencing reform; defending a woman’s right to access comprehensive reproductive health care; increasing awareness of the school-to-prison pipeline and “policing for profit;” advancing gender equality in school sports; empowering high school students at statewide youth summits; and advocating for teachers’ free speech.

The Bill of Rights Celebration will take place at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville on Wednesday, September 30. It will begin with a silent auction at 6:30 p.m., followed by a seated dinner and program. Tickets for the event are $125.00 per person and tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available here. Tickets and sponsorships may also be purchased by calling the ACLU-TN office at 615-320-7142.

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