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February 11, 2017

Tennessee Bill Seeks To 'Defend Natural Marriage Between One Man And One Woman'

Maybe you thought the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling making same-sex marriage legal in every American state meant marriage equality was a done deal in the U.S. Think again.

A new bill, The Natural Marriage Defense Act, was introduced in the Tennessee House of Representatives by Rep. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) and in the state’s Senate via Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) on Wednesday. If passed, the legislation would “defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary.”

Beavers and Pody introduced a similar bill last year that included a fiscal note that pointed out the state could forfeit up to $8.5 billion dollars if passed due to loss of federal funding. A House panel subsequently squashed that bill.

Pody has not yet commented on the bill. But in 2015 he said, “I believe I’m supposed to be speaking to the unsaved, to the people that are performing same-sex marriages, to the people involved in same-sex marriage, it is wicked, it is wrong and I am doing the best I can to warn them.”

Another Tennessee bill that Pody and Beavers also introduced this week aims to limit the rights of transgender students in the state. Similar to North Carolina’s infamous HB 2 bill, the as yet untitled legislation instructs public schools to “require that a student use student restroom and locker room facilities that are assigned for use by persons of the same sex as the sex indicated on the student’s original birth certificate.”

A version of the measure that Sen. Susan Lynn introduced last year was “ultimately shelved by the lawmaker amid intense controversy,” The Tennessean notes.

“Obviously the personal impact on trans students is devastating,” Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, told the newspaper in response to the bill. “What it will result in is them going to the wrong restroom or going to a special restroom that will out them as trans and stigmatize them or put a target on them for bullying.”

Public outcry is already mounting against the bills. In December, Tennessee Thrives, a coalition of roughly 200 businesses in the state, formed to act as a watchdog to combat this kind discriminatory legislation. 

Pody and Beavers will reportedly hold a press conference next week to address the introduction of their legislation.

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Source: Queer Voices

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