TN Republicans Push for the ‘Natural Marriage Defense Act’

The state will lose nine billion in federal funding if it gets passed.

Senator Mark Pody and Representative Jerry Sexton, both from the GOP, have filed legislation to bar their state, Tennessee, from allowing same-sex marriages. The bill is formally known as “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act” and if passed, would deal a financial blow to the state throwing away a staggering $9 billion dollars of funding from the federal government.

The premise of the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act is that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2015 which favors marriage equality cannot be applicable to the Tennessee state as the constitution of the state encapsulates marriage as a union between one woman and one man. The proposed legislative piece will harden this narrow definition of marriage. State government officials will be ordered not to recognize gay unions in whatever capacity. It will also compel the Attorney General of Tennessee to defend the laws of the state governing marriage if the court receives any challenge in the future.

According to Chris Sanders, executive director, Tennessee Equality Project, if this legislation gets passed, the plaintiffs would in all probability swiftly take the step to challenge the same in court. These actions will result in any federal district court issuing the rule of the law being unenforceable. Tennessee would subsequently be forced to appeal against such a ruling and will vociferously defend the new law. The case will be sent to the 6th circuit court of federal appeals and then will naturally advance to the Supreme Court of the United State, a dream scenario of any right-wing political entity. The Tennessee Equality Project is an advocacy group fighting for LGBTQ rights who has opposed the bill.

The Supreme Court in the U.S. sided five to four to favor equal marriage rights in 2015. The scenario may change with Brett Kavanaugh, a known right-wing justice, being appointed to the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump. Kavanaugh took the seat of outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted for equal marriage, thus making gay marriages possible. The present legal bench is now apparently in favor of banning same-sex marriages. If this happens, the movement will push the U.S. down on gay rights matters.

The passing of this bill will lead to about $9 billion dollars in federal funding withheld from the state. The fiscal review committee of the General Assembly also linked an additional $2 billion in funding loss. The latter amount gets sent to the Department of Human Services Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

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