House Civil Justice Subcommittee Chairman Jim Coley of Bartlett surprised some by being the only member of that panel to vote yes on the “Natural Marriage Defense Act” with the anti-gay marriage measure was killed last week. He explained to the Memphis Flyer.
Coley, a teacher at Bolton High School who acknowledges that he is probably rightly considered “moderate to conservative,” says that his vote, while expressing his own point of view, was primarily meant to convey the attitude of his constituents.
“One of the largest and most active churches in Tennessee, Bellevue Baptist, is in my district,” he pointed out. He said there had been numerous communications from his district, “both pro and con,” but that he concurred with proponents of the bill that some statement needed to be made in defense of the traditional one man-one woman view of marriage.
“When you think about it, for a 5-4 decision by a court to strike down an institution that had existed for thousands of years in that form and, without doubt, is still supported by a vast majority of people in this culture is highly undemocratic,” Coley said. He noted that a constitutional amendment against gay marriage, authored by then Rep. Fowler, had received 81 percent approval from the state’s voters in 2006.