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.
If there were any doubts about where the Republican Party officially stands on the question of LGBT rights, its recent action settles it. On August 14, the Republican National Committee (RNC) passed a resolution supporting strongly anti-LGBT legislation. The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) was designed specifically to prevent the federal government from taking any “adverse action” against individuals or organizations for discriminating against LGBT individuals on the basis of religious belief. “Adverse action” is given an uncommonly broad definition in the bill, covering everything from imposing tax penalties to refusing contracts, grant awards or employment.
The bill, which also allows individuals and organizations that have discriminated against LGBT individuals to sue the federal government for monetary damages, was introduced specifically in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the widely celebrated civil rights decision that legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty states.
Several candidates in the 2016 Presidential race have staked out their opposition to same-sex marriage following the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling last June. While not all the candidates have spoken out forcefully against the ruling--and both leading Democratic candidates support the decision--many others have emphasized their commitment to overturning it.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has never held back when it comes to his brutally honest opinions. This time, he has unleashed his tongue on the Court’s historic decision on same-sex marriage last June. In a speech at Georgetown University’s Law Center on November 16, Scalia condemned what he sees as the overreach of Obergefell v. Hodges. His belief is that the expansion of minority rights should come through legislation and democracy, not through the courts. He does not believe that the courts should decide which groups are “deserving minorities,” and suggested that child molesters could be protected by the same logic the Court used to rule on Obergefell.
Editor's Note: Updated with citations from the justices and reactions from those in attendance.
After decades of struggle, marriage equality is now the law of the land. Millions of Americans have been waiting for our nation’s highest court to recognize marriage equality--and it just did in a 5-4 opinion, issued by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Ever since the tide turned sharply in 2013, when the Court found that the federal government had to recognize same-sex married couples under federal law, case after case pointed toward what seemed an inevitable national consensus--at least until the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a contrary decision, setting up a showdown at the Supreme Court.
In just a few days, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in one of the most important civil rights cases in a generation: Obergefell v. Hodges. After more than 20 years of struggle for marriage equality in the US, gay rights advocates are hopeful that, one way or another, Obergefell will legalize same-sex marriage in all fifty states.
And indicators suggest there's a very good chance.