This bill is also known as the Natural Marriage Defense Act. It declares that Tennessee will only recognize and give effect to marriages between one man and one woman and will not recognize any court decision that purports to strike down natural marriage.
As with a similar bill filed last year, there are several potential legal issues with this bill as written, because of its requirement that the state ignore or “nullify” any court decision, including the U.S. Supreme Court, that issues a ruling contrary to Tennessee state policy on marriage. It could result in all local officials having to defend at local expense lawsuits by same-sex couples for civil rights violations and reimburse the litigants’ legal fees if they lose the lawsuits.
The bill is an improvement on last year’s bill in that would make the state liable to civil rights lawsuits for the non-issuance of same-sex marriage licenses instead of county clerks.
Beavers in the Senate, Pody in the House
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The House Civil Justice Subcommittee adopted an amendment to indemnify officials who comply with existing license law and referred to next year. No action taken in the House or Senate.