Tennessee’s $8.5 Billion Attempt To Invalidate Marriage Equality

Claiming it was their divine calling, 2 Tennessee legislators are leading an effort to overrule the Supreme Court that could cost the state billions–money that would otherwise go toward SNAP benefits for Tennessee’s poorest residents.

Tennessee’s House just killed a bill that would have ended same-sex marriage in the state.  That would be good news, but another identical bill is still pending in the Senate.

On September 17, 2014, two Tennessee state lawmakers resolved to take on the Supreme Court. Republicans Rep. Mark Pody and Sen. Mae Beavers each introduced “The Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act” in their respective houses of the Tennessee General Assembly. The purpose of the law is to effectively invalidate the Supreme Court’s ruling within Tennessee’s borders.

Credit: Source.
Rep. Mark Pody (L) Sen. Mae Beavers (R). Credit: Source.

According to the Tennessee General Assembly’s website, the bill “requires the state of Tennessee to defend natural marriage as between one man and one woman … regardless of any court decision to the contrary.” Under the law, Tennessee’s attorney general would be required to “defend any state or local government official from any lawsuit regarding the official’s recognition of natural marriage.” The bill also directs local agencies and officials to ignore court judgments ordering them to recognize marriage equality.

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Under the law, Tennessee’s attorney general would be required to “defend any state or local government official from any lawsuit regarding the official’s recognition of natural marriage.” The bill also directs local agencies and officials to ignore court judgments ordering them to recognize marriage equality.

The bill echoes the state’s now-defunct constitutional amendment defining marriage as a contract between a man and a woman. The amendment, added to Tennessee’s constitution by popular vote in 2006, declared that any alternative definition would be “contrary to the public policy of [Tennessee],” and specifically barred the state from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states. After an unsuccessful attempt by the ACLU of Tennessee to block the state from putting the measure on the ballot, voters approved the amendment with a staggering 81% majority.

Tennessee was one of four states that were parties to Obergefell v. Hodges. The landmark Supreme Court decision, which recognized the right to marriage equality in all fifty states, was a blow to Tennessee’s amendment. After the historic ruling in June, it seemed

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