‘Natural Marriage’ bill amended, punted to next year

The Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act – or what the AP describes as a “watered-down version” of the proposal that began as a declaration that the state would not recognize same-sex marriages – was shelved until next year by the House Civil Justice Subcommittee Wednesday with the concurrence of sponsor Rep. Mike Pody, R-Lebanon.

The bill (HB892, as amended) would have required the state attorney general to defend county or city clerks in court if they’re sued for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Pody agreed to move the bill to next year amid two ongoing local lawsuits, which challenge the implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex marriage legal nationwide. Initially, the bill would have declared that marriage is only between one man and one woman.

Further from The Tennessean:

Before the bill was delayed, the committee adopted an amendment that said since the Obergefell case only applied to recognizing other state’s same-sex marriages, Tennessee should be able to decide what goes on within its own borders, according to Pody.

“This turned out to be a very good day for us, the amendment got on, it’s on calendar for next year and we’re just going to see how the two cases go through. I’m thrilled,” Pody said.

… Legislative analysts said the marriage bill could put at risk $9 billion Tennessee receives from the federal government if Washington sees the measure as discrimination against same-sex couples.

That figure does not include any consideration for legal fees Tennessee could incur from any potential lawsuits but Pody said he remains undeterred.

“I’m a fiscal conservative, I want to fight for every single dollar we have up here, but I’m not going to be bullied by potential threats by the federal government,” he said.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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