that Tennessee would “comply with the [Supreme Court’s] decision and … ensure that our departments are able to do so as quickly as possible.” Though it was hardly a full-throated show of support, the statement wasn’t defiant either—a big step forward for a state that had just spent an enormous amount of money defending its marriage ban all the way to the Supreme Court.
But another state official was less enthusiastic about the Court’s ruling. On the day the ruling came down, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slattery III expressed his deep disappointment:
“Today’s United States Supreme Court decision not only changes the definition of marriage, but takes from the states and their citizens the longstanding authority to vote and decide what marriage means. To the Tennessee citizen who asks ‘Don’t we get a chance to vote on this in some way?’ the answer from the Supreme Court is a resounding, ‘No, you do not.’ For the Court to tell all Tennesseans that they have no voice, no right to vote, on these issues is disappointing. The Court, nevertheless, has spoken and we respect its decision. Our office is prepared to work with the Governor and the General Assembly, as needed, to take the necessary steps to implement the decision.”
By September, a small movement to resist Obergefell was gaining momentum. A crowd of more than 400 people attended a “Religious Liberty Rally” in Nashville on the day Pody and Beavers introduced their identical bills. Beavers spoke to the crowd, saying, “We’re going to tell the attorney general, he will defend marriage in Tennessee as it is written on our constitution.” Her audience cheered in response.
In December, at an event organized to bolster support for the bill, Rep. Pody said, “I believe I’m supposed to
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