TN Court of Appeals rejects lawsuit brought by same-sex marriage opponents

The state Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit brought by opponents of same-sex marriage with David Fowler, a former state senator and current chairman of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, acting as attorney for the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit, originally filed in Williamson County Chancery Court, contended that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision declaring that states must recognize same-sex marriages, known as Obergefell v. Hodges, had the legal effect of invalidating all Tennessee marriage laws.

The appeals court said the plaintiffs – ministers and interested citizens – lack legal standing to bring a lawsuit, basically because none of them have suffered any injury or had any rights violated.

“None of the citizen plaintiffs alleged that they were denied a marriage license; instead, they complain of the issuance of marriage license to others,” says the 15-page opinion at one point.  The three-judge panel’s decision was unanimous with the opinion written by Judge Neal McBrayer.

The plaintiffs’ attorney had cited a law recently enacted by the state legislature in arguing on the issue of legal standing. The statute says:

“Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, a cause of action shall exist under this chapter for any affected person who seeks declaratory or injunctive relief in any action brought regarding the legality or constitutionality of a governmental action.” 

But the appeals court said that “any affected person” doesn’t really change the current requirement that the plaintiffs have to show they suffered some kind of injury before a court can take up an issue.

“The language of the new statute is sufficiently similar to the standing provision of the Tennessee Declaratory Judgments Act, which grants standing to ‘[a]ny person . . . whose rights, status, or other legal relations are affected by a statute.’ As such, we conclude that the new statute retains a particularized injury requirement.”

The full opinion is HERE.

Update/Note: Text of an email sent Tuesday (May 29) by Fowler to Family Action Council of Tennessee supporters:

Today I finally received a copy of the decision by the Tennessee Court of Appeals on the appeal we had taken from the dismissal by Judge Joseph Woodruff of the lawsuit we had filed in Williamson County over the effects of the Obergefell decision on Tennessee’s marriage licensing statute.

The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal, but the analysis employed in reaching that decision is essentially the same as that which Judge Pemberton rejected in the same type of case that was filed in Bradley County. We have asked Judge Pemberton this morning to either stick by his previous ruling or to allow us to argue to him the errors we believe the Court of Appeals made in its analysis.

At this time, I do not believe I should provide the reasons that I believe the Court of Appeals was in error, but I will say that its decision does not bring this matter to a conclusion. I will only say that with each ruling and each oral argument, the issues that remain after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling are clarified so that future appeals, pleadings, and lawsuits can be more focused in order that the unconstitutionality of the actions being taken in our state will be rectified.

18 Responses to TN Court of Appeals rejects lawsuit brought by same-sex marriage opponents

  • Leslie Parsley says:

    Hallelujah! “The appeals court said the plaintiffs – ministers and interested citizens – lack legal standing to bring a lawsuit, basically because none of them have suffered any injury or had any rights violated.” YES!

  • Stuart I. Anderson says:

    The fight against Cultural Marxism will continue and it will either be ultimately successful or we will see the eventual deterioration then collapse of western civilization until we become the places from which so many are seeking to escape.

  • David Collins says:

    That is funny. I don’t remember Marxism ever embracing same sex marriage or the homosexual lifestyle for that matter. What I recall about Marxism is that said political philosophy is not big on siding with individual freedoms (such as right to chose one’s mate, etc.). No, I recall it is all about the government and everyone doing what the government thinks they should be doing, which is basically everyone doing the same thing. So I really don’t believe the legalization of gay marriage (actually, more accurately, recognizing homosexuals have the right to marry the person of their choosing), is going to launch our society down some slippery slope that culminates in a Marxist form of government.

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      I can understand your confusion. I will try to explain.

      The advent of Cultural Marxism occurred after World War I the aftermath of which was such a disappointment to Marxists. Boris Pasternak captured it beautifully in Dr. Zhivago, the joy which the Marxists greeted the beginning of World War I because this was precisely the conflagration that Marx predicted would occur as an inevitable result of capitalism. As the countries involved in the war fought to themselves exhaustion it was supposed to lead to the collapse of their governing and cultural structures and the advent of communist societies.

      During the war a communist revolution broke out and was successful in Russia. Immediately after the war there was a communist takeover in Hungary and a communist revolution broke out in Germany. The Hungarian takeover lasted only a few months and the German revolution was easily put down by the returning troops from the front. THEN NOTHING!!!! The disappointment among the Marxists was disabling. World War I was the cataclysm that Marx so correctly predicted would occur and lead to world revolution but as time passed it obviously did no such thing.

      Marxist theoreticians met and they concluded that what was preventing world revolution was western culture. The church as an institution and religious beliefs especially Christianity. The attachment to family, and patriotic love of country and its traditions. When the depression of the 1930’s failed to bring about the revolution Marxists determined that it must be their primary long-term goal to slowly but surely destroy belief in religion, the family, patriotism in a deliberate many pronged program which we call today “Cultural Marxism.”

      The destruction of the institution of marriage by changing it’s fundamental nature regarding its participants is just one small step in the relentless, and I must say over the long-run successful, program now enthusiastically adopted by those on the non-Marxist left to dismantle and then recreate society via its culture. Slowly but surely Cultural Marxism is whittling away at the pride and self-confidence that all societies need to survive. To those with children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and first cousins once removed, I wish you the very best of luck!

      • Keith Richardson says:

        “The destruction of the institution of marriage by changing it’s fundamental nature regarding its participants is just one small step …” So Stuart, are you also claiming that our thrice-married, twice-divorced, and multitudinously adulterous president is a Marxist tool? If not, why not?

        • Stuart I. Anderson says:

          Trump, the human being, is an odious character in many ways (though Trump the President isn’t bad) but he isn’t a Marxist. Most places at most times allow for divorce. Trump’s behavior has him married to one woman at one time and he isn’t a public advocate for adultery. While people like him make a mockery of the institution of marriage he doesn’t want to change its fundamental nature.

          Again, forcing same sex marriage on an unwilling populace via the courts is only one example of the functioning of Cultural Marxism and the upheaval they seek to cause. The endless “bathroom wars” is another, the court imposed limitations on parental authority over their children is yet another. On and on it goes!

  • Donna Locke says:

    Good decision.

    There is no dearth of people trying to mind other people’s business.

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Oh Donna, your so 1970! No one cares what two consenting adults do anymore.

      When you demand that the government change the definition of its social institutions that have been in effect since modern societies were first formed to accommodate “your business,” and when you demand that unwilling individuals assist you in the performance of ceremonies connected with what you want to do then you’re no longer doing “your business” but rather ostentatiously involving other people in “your business” who simply want to be left alone.

      • Bob Fischer says:

        You mean like insisting corporations are people or that money is the equivalent of free speech?

        The only interest the government should have in a marriage is in its licensing and that is strictly for probate and power of attorney type problems.

      • Donna Locke says:

        You don’t know me, Stuart. I am a strong supporter of LGBT equality, but I have written in support of the cake bakers, etc. This puts me at odds with some of my fellow advocates on this issue, but I see a freedom there that should be protected for us all. And we are talking about freedom here, are we not, Stuart?

        As for marriage ceremonies, no one is forcing anyone to perform a marriage ceremony. If you are on the public payroll and that is part of your job, do it, quit, or be fired. You are not allowed to discriminate if you are paid with tax dollars. Some county clerks are getting out of this by no longer performing marriage ceremonies at all, inconveniencing couples who are not religious. State law specifies who can perform marriages, so we are left with fewer people who can do the ceremonies. This is not right, so we will have to add some designated marriage conductors. I volunteer. I will proclaim myself the minister of the Church of Donna, and we can gather under my hackberry tree with my neighbors or the cats as witnesses.

        You need to look up the history of marriage and its origins, by the way.

        • Stuart I. Anderson says:

          I agree, government officials should obey the law once the law is promulgated by those constitutionally entitled to do so. Those who don’t like the law should evangelize the citizenry to elect those who will change it. These attempts are ongoing. Private citizens should be left alone and private businesses should not be converted into public utilities.

  • Bob Fischer says:

    Cultural Marxism. Geez, what a crock.

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      It’s a bit embarrassing to have what is supposed to be a more or less stealth crusade made public, but you don’t have to get testy about it Bob.

      • Bob Fischer says:

        There’s nothing stealth about the cow manure you’re leaving in the middle of the road. You can smell it from quite the distance.

  • William Upton says:

    It’s a sick society that allows and condones same sex marriage. Let them do a business contract for legal practices. They can do whatever they like in private just stop making public statements about their perversions.

    • Bob Fischer says:

      It’s not government’s place to condone or condemn the union of any two people. It’s the government’s place to provide equal rights under the law and record such unions to establish such equal treatment under the law in probate, power of attorney, etc.

  • Eddie White says:

    As a Christian, I believe in the Biblicial definition of marriage, between one man and one woman. That definition has preserved our society from the beginning of time. I don’t support allowing our government to recognize same-sex marriage, or for that matter a person to marry their dog, or a 10 year old child, or their sister, or have multiple spouses for that matter. The foundation of society is built on the traditional definition of marriage and family unit. Hard for some to come to grips with, but it is true. Western civization will not survive otherwise.

  • J. Sheryl Adam says:

    Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t understand the real reason governments around the world had established laws, regulations and public registries was in order to protect the public and society from harm. I am not going to stop any person who wants their name and details on a public registry as a sex worker, sex offender and or a civil registered married person in order to be controlled and punished by the state.

    Government authorities have forced me to have a legal union (registration) with my cat, dog, cars, house, work and mobile phone, but these legal contract/consent (registrations) aren’t for a lifetime nor are these animals/things my man-woman “one flesh” (marriage). Adam and Eve never purchased a legal state marriage certificate nor did they have a public wedding ceremony, but they had a genuine man-woman “one flesh” (marriage). The germanic marriage was based on man-woman cohabitation and this has now gained “independence” or “ind” from the civil registered marriage or roman marriage which was based on legal contract/consent. The government has removed the morality of murder by the use of a legal contract/consent to an abortion, euthanasia. Also, the government has removed the morality of adultery and breaking a man-woman “one flesh” (marriage) oath by a legal consent to a no fault divorce law. Plus, the government has removed the morality of man-woman “one flesh” (marriage) because the 2017 amended Marriage Act removed the criteria of an exclusive union between one man and one woman for life. The government removed the morality of procreation by promoting scientific experimentation of human reproduction.

    Australian farmers don’t pretend that the public roads authority regulate their roads on private property, nor should genuine Christians pretend that the 2017 amended Marriage Act and no fault divorce law are regulating their man-woman “one flesh” (marriage) nor a religious divorce. The Christian church protected and supported the creation of man-woman “one flesh” (marriage) oaths, and the governments originally established laws, regulations and a public marriage registry to detect and prevent the harm of marriage and family breakdown. However, the government no longer detects nor prevents the harm of adultery nor the harmful practice of breaking a man-woman “one flesh” (marriage) oath because the no fault divorce law was introduced to decriminalise (no longer punish) this behavioural practice as a civil registered marriage is no longer based on faithful sexual intercourse nor a lifelong contract. A civil registered marriage is treated equally the same as a civil partnership because a legal union is broken down by revoking the registration which is the equivalent of a no fault divorce.

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