KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Four same sex couples are seeking immediate protection from the state of Tennessee while a federal lawsuit in pursuit of marriage equality is pending.
A motion filed in Nashville Tuesday asks the court to stop enforcing the Marriage Protection Amendment, which prohibits same sex marriage, during the interim period before a final decision is made on the federal lawsuit.
A Knoxville couple said the immediate protection is urgent now more than ever because they are expecting a baby and need the child to have two parents in the eyes of the law.
"Every day that we wait, we're much more vulnerable," Sophy Jesty said.
Jesty and Valeria Tanco have been married for two years, and they're expecting their first child this spring, a girl they have named Emelia.
The couple was legally married in New York in 2011.
"When we moved here for our jobs, we literally crossed the state line and all of the protections afforded to us were completely stripped away by Tennessee's law," Jesty said.
"My number one fear, and I think every parent can relate, is if something were to happen to me while giving birth, Emelia would be unprotected because her other parent would be not recognized by the law," Tanco said.
Regina Lambert represents Tanco and Jesty and said she's expecting the court to respond quickly.
"The point of it is that there's immediate harm, and so we're asking the court to act immediately," Lambert said. "There's really an incredible amount that people don't think about what their marriage provides, and it's also the dignity of knowing you're in a recognized relationship with your spouse."
"Not to be able to act as her parent legally, I think the only thing that law accomplishes is actually putting our baby at risk," Jesty said.