Sara Clifft – Section Editor
On February 8, two Tennessee state legislators, Senator Mark Pody and Representative Jerry Sexton, reintroduced a bill aiming to ban same-sex marriage in Tennessee.
The “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act” was first proposed in 2016 and seeks to “defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary.”
Pody and Sexton argue that because the state has already passed its own law and constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman, the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges is “unauthoritative, void and of no effect.”
The bill would prohibit government officials–including clerks issuing marriage certificates–from recognizing any court ruling that affirms same-sex unions, and also states that officials cannot be arrested for withholding marriage certificates from same-sex couples.
“The far right’s dream scenario is this would go back before the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court would accept it,” Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, an LGBTQ rights advocacy group said in an interview with the Tennessean.
In addition to the possible legal arguments against the bill, there are also economic concerns surrounding the bill. In 2017, the General Assembly estimated that the Natural Marriage Defense Act could cause approximately $9 billion in federal funding to be withheld from the state.