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Tennessee's State Capitol

NASHVILLE, March 10, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Tennessee House of Representatives has passed a motion saying the Supreme Court case redefining marriage, Obergefell v. Hodges, was wrongly decided and imposes a new understanding of the law “that is contrary to the express will of this body and the vote of the people of Tennessee.”

A motion expressing legislators' views on the matter, House Joint Resolution 0529, passed the state House last Wednesday by a vote of 73-18.

“I wrote this resolution because the legislature is without standing to sue the court over their decree that purported to make new law in Tennessee,” said Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mount Joliet.

Tennessee legislators voted to uphold marriage as the union of one man and one woman in 1996, 2004, and 2005. Then, state voters approved a constitutional marriage protection amendment by 81.3 percent in 2006.

Although the Obergefell case was supposed to have “settled” the issue of same-sex “marriage,” polls show support for the new definition declining, both nationwide and in Tennessee.

A poll released last November by Middle Tennessee State University found that only 29 percent of Tennessee residents support redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. Meanwhile, 57 percent of Tennessee's citizens – including 44 percent of Democrats – oppose or strongly oppose same-sex “marriage.”

The non-binding resolution is intended to bolster two lawsuits filed by Williamson and Bradley Counties to stop clerks from issuing any marriage licenses. The plaintiffs argue that, since the Supreme Court struck down the state's marriage law as unconstitutional, and lawmakers have not passed new law, there is no way to issue a valid marriage license in the state.

“This lawsuit does not deny that the Supreme Court has the power of judicial review ,” said former state senator David Fowler, who is now acting on behalf of the Constitutional Government Defense Fund. Instead, he said, the lawsuit asks, “How does anyone, regardless of the sexes of the parties, get a valid marriage license pursuant to an invalid law?”

Rep. Lynn – who has won numerous awards from Tennessee Right to Life (2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2012) and was Eagle Forum's legislator of the year in 2010 – agreed, “Our vote on this resolution affirms our state sovereignty, and our guaranteed Constitutional right of separation of powers and the doctrine of severability.”

This week, her motion was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further action.

The motion reads in full:

A RESOLUTION relative to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

WHEREAS, on June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (No. 14-556, 2015 WL 2473451 (June 26, 2015)); and

WHEREAS, two years earlier, in the case of Windsor v. United States, 570 U.S. ___ (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court said, “[t]he whole subject of the domestic relations of husband and wife, parent and child, belongs to the laws of the states, and not to the laws of the United States”; and

WHEREAS, the Obergefell decision raises serious constitutional issues regarding the constitutional doctrines of federalism and separation of powers; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED NINTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE CONCURRING, that this body expresses its disagreement with the constitutional analysis in Obergefell v. Hodges and the judicial imposition of a marriage license law that is contrary to the express will of this body and the vote of the people of Tennessee.


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