News release from Sen. Mae Beavers
NASHVILLE, (February 29, 2016) — State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) today reiterated support for legislation she is sponsoring in the Tennessee General Assembly to defend marriage as a union of a man and a woman as recognized by the people of Tennessee in the State Constitution. Beavers said the only constitutionally sound resolution of the Obergefell v. Hodges opinion would be for the legislature to ignore and nullify it on the basis of the Tenth Amendment alone, which is the aim of the bill called the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act.
“Justice Antonin Scalia characterized the Obergefell ruling as ‘lacking even a thin veneer of law,” said Senator Beavers. “The U. S. Constitution specifically enumerates the powers of the federal government, including the judiciary. The Tenth Amendment precisely states that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people. As the regulation of marriage is not a federally enumerated power, no branch of the federal government has the constitutional authority to interfere with the institution.”
Beavers said that the actions by Governor Bill Haslam and Attorney General Herbert Slatery recognizing same sex marriages as legal in the days following the Obergefell decision plunged Tennesseans into a moral and constitutional quagmire. “This was the equivalent to an illegal decree,” added Beavers. “Because the Tennessee Code can only be enacted by the General Assembly, the governor’s and attorney general’s actions were, in and of themselves, lacking even a thin veneer of law as Justice Scalia said.”
“Since the Supreme Court delivered their decision, several well-meaning legislators have introduced resolutions opposing the Obergefell decision,” she said. “But these resolutions take the posture that the decision actually does exercise a power to amend Tennessee statutes and their enforcement.”
Beavers’ bill prohibits any state or local agency from complying with any court order that has the effect of violating Tennessee’s laws protecting natural marriage. It also prohibits state and local governments from arresting those persons who do not comply with a court order that is in contradiction to natural marriage in Tennessee. The legislation failed to receive a majority in the five-member House Civil Justice Subcommittee to move forward in the House of Representatives for the body’s 99 members to consider. She said that there are efforts to resurrect the bill in the House and that she will schedule the legislation in the Senate accordingly.
“The action by only a few legislators denies the citizens of Tennessee, who made the definition of marriage a part of our Constitution, the opportunity to have their representatives take a stand for both traditional marriage and constitutional integrity,” added Beavers. “There are several well-meaning legislators that have introduced other resolutions opposing the Obergefell decision; but these proposals take the posture that the decision actually does exercise a power to amend Tennessee statutes and their enforcement.”
“Since the decision failed to act within the jurisdictional power of the Supreme Court, and since no judiciary action can amend a statute, the posture of accepting that a legitimate power was exercised is self-defeating,” she continued. “If we cannot honor our oaths of office and take a definitive stand by nullifying enforcement of the immoral, illegal and unconstitutional Obergefell opinion; if we cannot take an unwavering and principled stand for something so fundamental as traditional marriage; is there any principle, any freedom, we will not sacrifice?”
“If we fail to stand on this issue, we render not only the United States and Tennessee constitutions null and void; we become complicit in undermining the very foundations of our constitutional, federal, republic. I hope that my colleagues in the Tennessee General Assembly will stand will stand with me to defend the constitutions of our state and nation and adopt the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act,” Beavers concluded.
Note: The House bill (HB1812) failed while getting only one yes vote in the Civil Justice Subcommittee. Beavers’ bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.