A new bill, HR1369, filed by Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, and Sen. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, that would strip marriage rights for same-sex couples has been filed in the Tennessee legislature. I just took the time to read it.
To describe it as an atrocity is too kind.
The bill describes the Obergefell decision in 2015 as “lawless.” It goes on to quote several lines from Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent and condemns that only five justices ruled according to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
On this point, the text of the bill is horribly and indefensibly wrong. It was not merely five judges. In fact, of the 12 appellate districts of the federal court system, all but two had already ruled that it was a violation of the Constitution to deny same-sex marriage rights.
In fact, this is precisely why anti-LGBT activists pushed so hard to amend the Constitution in 2004 — they knew that denying same-sex marriage rights violated the 14th Amendment. So, the drive to add discrimination into the nation’s basis for all law and government reached a fever pitch.
Since then, dozens upon dozens of federal district courts and at least nine of the courts of appeals ruled the same way — that marriage was a fundamental right to all Americans, including same-sex couples.
No laws were written, which is a common mantra of these anti-LGBT activists. Judges — including the Supreme Court justices — did not write a single law.
They simply did what their job required them to do — to review the laws that were passed and determine if they held up to the Constitution.
District after district, appellate court after appellate court, ruled the same way. Unconstitutional. Unconstitutional. Unconstitutional. Ultimately, it was the 6th District, which includes the state of Tennessee, that created an appellate split. The 6th District forced the Supreme Court’s hand with a ruling that suggested having a popular vote on the issue. Until then, the justices had rejected every single appeal from anti-LGBT activists and attorneys. Once a district split occurred, they had no choice but to intervene. Obergefell v. Hodges was the case that was chosen to be reviewed.
In the case of the Obergefell decision, the Supreme Court was asked to rule on two questions:
- Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
- Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
The answer was yes, to both questions. Again, no laws were written. Nothing new was created.
The fact that so many activists continue to push this agenda to strip the rights of marriage from their gay and lesbian neighbors is as tragic as it is ill-informed.
This new bill would callously revoke those rights from couples that are already married, and would create outright legal chaos for these many thousands of married Tennesseans, including several that I know personally. I’ve never married, but if Sexton and Pody have their way, I would never be able to.
Not only does it reject the Obergefell decision, but it assumes that Tennessee has the right to ignore a Supreme Court ruling. Litigation would almost certainly be filed, arguing that point. In the meantime, Tennessee couples would be directly harmed for years, if not permanently.
Tennessee is my home, and it always has been. I’ve built my business here. My family is here. I call on our state senators and representatives to reject this mean-spirited bill for the abomination it is.
This article was first published in The Leaf-Chronicle on Sunday, February 10, 2019.