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Tue Feb 12, 2019, 05:20 AM

Tennessee Again Tries to Undo Marriage Equality, Force Court Case

After multiple failed attempts, right-wing Tennessee lawmakers are again trying to undo marriage equality in the state — and apparently hoping to send the issue back to the U.S. Supreme Court.

State Sen. Mark Pody and Rep. Jerry Sexton, both Republicans, last week introduced the Natural Marriage Defense Act, which would prohibit government officials from “recognizing any court ruling that affirms same-sex unions, and specifies they cannot be arrested for failing to comply with court orders that do so,” The Tennessean of Nashville reports. Pody, who has claimed God called him to stop same-sex marriages, was a force behind previous bills to this effect introduced in 2015 and 2017, both of which failed to pass.

The new bill contends that the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling doesn’t apply to Tennessee because the state had both a law and a constitutional amendment defining marriage as solely a union between a man and a woman. Many other states, however, had such statutes and amendments, and the Supreme Court found that they violated the U.S. Constitution, so the Tennessee bill is on shaky legal ground.

If the bill became law, it would almost assuredly be challenged in court, but it contains language that would require the state attorney general to defend it — indicating that its proponents are hoping it could result in the Supreme Court reconsidering marriage equality, said Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, an LGBTQ rights group. That’s “the far right’s dream scenario,” he told The Tennessean.

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