Tennessee lawmakers begin new push to overturn same-sex marriage
Tennessee lawmakers have filed a bill to overturn same-sex marriage, which campaigners fear could destroy the fragile consensus on the issue.
Republican lawmakers Sen. Mark Pody and Rep. Jerry Sexton have filed the bill, known as the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act.
The bill declares that the 2015 US Supreme Court ruling in favour of equal marriage “does not apply” in Tennessee, as the state’s constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
The proposed law also seeks to enforce the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman in Tennessee, prohibiting state government officials from recognising same-sex unions in any capacity.
LGBT+ campaigners fear Tennessee bill could bring same-sex marriage back to US Supreme Court
The bill also directs the state’s Attorney General to defend Tennessee law if there is any court battle on the issue—which campaigners say is a sign of the true motive behind the plan.
If passed, the legislation would result in a court battle that could have much wider consequences if it reaches the US Supreme Court.
The US Supreme Court sided 5-4 in favour of equal marriage in 2015, but the fragile consensus on the issue has likely been overridden by President Donald Trump’s appointment of right-wing justice Brett Kavanaugh.
As Kavanaugh took the seat of retiring justice Anthony Kennedy, who had been the crucial swing vote in favour of equal marriage, it is possible that the Supreme Court would now side 5-4 against affirming same-sex marriage rights, threatening a backslide on the issue nationally.
Speaking to the Tennessean newspaper, Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project said: “The far right’s dream scenario is this would go back before the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court would accept it.”
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