Legislation filed in General Assembly would declare “void and of no effect” within Tennessee the U.S. Supreme Court decision authorizing same-sex marriages. The announcement news release and a partial text of the bill follow.
News release from Sen. Mae Beavers
NASHVILLE, September 17, 2015– On Thursday, almost a thousand conservative Christians gathered at the Tennessee state capitol for a rally today that featured many Republican state legislators prepared to fight the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage.
At the rally, State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) and State Representative Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) announced legislation calling for Tennessee to defend current state law and the constitutional amendment adopted by voters in 2006 specifying that only a marriage between a man and a woman can be legally recognized in the state. The “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act” rejects the Obergefell v. Hodges decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June giving same sex couples the fundamental right to marry and calls on the attorney general and reporter to defend any state or local government official from any lawsuit to the contrary.
House Bill 1412 / Senate Bill 1437 also aims to protect court clerks and ministers who have religious objections to marrying same sex couples from prosecution or civil action.
“This decision defies constitutional authority and is one of the most glaring examples of judicial activism in U.S. Supreme Court history,” said Representative Pody. “It not only tramples on state’s rights, but has paved the way for an all-out assault on the religious freedoms of Christians who disagree with it. This bill calls for Tennessee to stand against such unconstitutional action in hopes that other states will stand with us against an out-of-control court legislating from the bench.”
“Natural marriage between one man and one woman as recognized by the people of this state remains the law, regardless of any court decision to the contrary,” said Senator Beavers. “The Obergefell case is clearly and blatantly an overstep of the Supreme Court’s Authority and it is time that states, like Tennessee, stand up against the judicial tyranny of which Thomas Jefferson so eloquently warned. This legislation deems that any court decision purporting to strike down the state’s definitions of natural marriage, including Obergefell v. Hodges, is void in Tennessee.”
“Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying, ‘Whenever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force,'” said Beavers.
Beavers’ and Pody’s legislation says, “No state or local agency or official shall give force or effect to any court order that has the effect of violating Tennessee’s laws protecting natural marriage.”
It also says, “No state or local agency or official shall levy upon the property or arrest the person of any government official or individual who does not comply with any unlawful court order regarding natural marriage within Tennessee.”
“Our clerks and Tennessee’s clergy need protection to exercise their religious beliefs,” added Beavers. “This law would help protect them from prosecution or civil actions.”
State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) praised Beavers and Pody for their willingness to stand and fight.
“I’m so thankful to have Senator Beavers and Representative Pody fighting for the Tenth Amendment here in the State of Tennessee,” said Holt. “Together, we will be the voice of our constituents. Whether the Court likes it or not.”
Tennessee’s marriage protection amendment specifying that only a marriage between a man and woman can be legally recognized in the state was approved by 81 percent of voters.
The General Assembly will take up the bill upon convening the 2016 legislative session in January.
Note: The bill has a seven-page preamble of “whereas” clauses, followed by the following language:
(b) Natural marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman as recognized by the people of Tennessee remains the law in Tennessee, regardless of any court decision to the contrary. Any court decision purporting to strike down natural marriage, including Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015), is unauthoritative, void, and of no effect.
(d) The attorney general and reporter shall defend any state or local government official from any lawsuit regarding the official’s recognition of natural marriage as defined by this section.
(e) No state or local agency or official shall give force or effect to any court order that has the effect of violating Tennessee’s laws protecting natural marriage.
(f) No state or local agency or official shall levy upon the property or arrest the person of any government official or individual who does not comply with any unlawful court order regarding natural marriage within Tennessee.