The battle over Tennessee's ban on gay marriage headed to federal court this week.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals listened to arguments from Tennessee, as well as Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan, all of which ban same-sex marriage. But the court also heard from six same-sex couples from those four states. One of those couples, Valeria Tanco and Sophy Jesty, live in West Knoxville.
After this week's hearing, Tanco and Jesty believe they are one step closer to achieving their goal -- when Tennessee would be required to recognize their marriage.
The couple married in another state, where same-sex marriage is recognized, but moved to Tennessee shortly thereafter. Now, they find themselves fighting for that right. Their fight led them to Cincinnati, where they pleaded their case to a federal judge.
"I knew that the panel of judges of course wasn't going to give a decision right away. It might be a couple months until we hear what the decision is. So I wasn't expecting any quick turnaround on that," said Jesty.
Tanco, however, couldn't make the trip. She had the responsibility of staying at home and watching over the couple's four-month-old daughter, Amelia.
"I remember just thinking all day, 'when will I hear back from her? I need to know what's going on,'" Tanco said. "She called me from the road and the phone would cut in and out. I would have really liked to be there, but unfortunately both of us couldn't have gone."
But Jesty saw first-person the back and forth between the states, and the residents looking for equal rights.
"It was a big moment. And it was certainly the first time I have heard oral arguments before the court on this issue. It was really moving. It was touching. I was touched," said Jesty. And she felt the support inside and out of the courthouse.
"I think that there is so much momentum now for marriage equality that my feeling is that there is an end in sight. And hopefully it's not too far away now. Maybe within the next few years even."
As they continue to fight, they hope to change the future, to make the world a better place for everyone; especially for their daughter, Amelia.
"Families come in so many different shapes and forms these days that I think all we are trying to do is show Amelia that hers is as valid as any others," said Tanco.
For now, Jesty and Tanco are waiting out the appeals process. They believe this case, whatever the outcome is at the appeals level, will eventually be taken to the US Supreme Court.
There, they feel confident they all their work will have been worth it.