press release

FACT Files Appeal With TN Supreme Court Concerning Marriage Licensing Laws

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (August 10, 2018)—The following statement regarding an Application for Permission to Appeal filed today with the Supreme Court for the state of Tennessee in the case of Grant v. Anderson may be attributed to David Fowler, counsel for the Constitutional Government Defense Fund (CGDF), an initiative of The Family Action Council of Tennessee, Inc.:

Today we have asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to hear an appeal in a case seeking to have the state’s judiciary decide questions of great constitutional importance arising out of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that involved state laws governing the issuance of marriage licenses.

Assumptions are being made about the meaning of Obergefell’s holdings that, if unchecked, represent a seismic shift in the judiciary’s treatment of vital constitutional principles regarding the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of government and the division of powers between state and federal governments.

For the first time in history, it is being assumed that the United States Supreme Court can require a local official in a state to issue a statutorily defined and authorized license that no branch of state government has every authorized that official to issue. Obergefell is being treated as a de facto amendment by a federal court of a state’s statute.

Unfortunately, the lower courts have refused to take up these questions, dismissing the lawsuit on the grounds that even ordained ministers who are licensed by the state to solemnize marriages for legal purposes have no right to know what effect Obergefell may have had on the laws they administer for the state. This frustrates the express purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act, which is to allow those affected by a law to resolve uncertainties surrounding that law.

The application today asks that the state Supreme Court take up an appeal to determine whether our clients should finally have their day in court.

CGDF has a similar lawsuit involving different parties that is pending in Bradley County Circuit Court. That lawsuit was not dismissed, but a ruling on the merits in that court has been deferred by the judge pending action by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on marriage, families, life, and religious liberty. FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values God’s design for the family, for the sake of the common good. For more information, visit FACTn.org.

Media Contact: Laura Bagby, Director of Communications | Office Phone: 615-261-1338 | email: laura.bagby@factn.org

press release

FACT Pleased That SCOTUS Sides With Religious Liberty

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (June 4, 2018) – The following comment concerning the much-anticipated outcome of the Jack Phillips religious liberty case can be attributed to FACT President David Fowler:

We are grateful for the Supreme Court’s decision vacating the judgment that had been rendered against Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, for refusing to custom design a wedding cake for a government-licensed marriage between two men.

The Court’s opinion makes it clear that the government may not mock one’s religious beliefs or treat those beliefs less favorably because those in charge take offense.

However, the Court did not address his claim that custom designing a wedding cake should be protected in the same way as other forms of “expressive conduct” that the Court has recognized, such as burning the American flag or working as a stripper. The Court also did not address his claim that a law forcing him to design a cake that celebrates and marks an event his religious beliefs do not allow him to celebrate and acknowledge as a marriage violates his religious liberty. We look forward to both of those issues being addressed in the future.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on marriage, families, life, and religious liberty. FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values God’s design for the family, for the sake of the common good. For more information, visit FACTn.org.

Media Contact: Laura Bagby, Director of Communications | Office Phone: 615-261-1338 | email: laura.bagby@factn.org

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FACT Commends Trump for Focus on Military Preparedness

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (July 26, 2017) – In light of President Donald Trump tweeting a statement today concerning military preparedness as it relates to transgenders in the armed forces, FACT President David Fowler made this comment:

President Trump has kept a campaign promise to make military preparedness the focus of our military, and I commend him for doing so.

The military is not suited for social experimentation that distracts from and diverts resources away from its singular focus—military preparedness against threats by foreign military powers—particularly at a time when those threats are increasing around the globe.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on marriage, families, life, and religious liberty. FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values God’s design for the family, for the sake of the common good. For more information, visit FACTn.org.

Media Contact: Laura Bagby, Director of Communications | Office Phone: 615-261-1338 | email: laura.bagby@factn.org

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Obergefell-Related Marriage Lawsuit Advances in Court!

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (June 1, 2017) —Tuesday we received notice that Judge Pemberton denied the various motions made to dismiss the Obergefell-related marriage lawsuit filed in Bradley County by FACT’s Constitutional Government Defense Fund (CGDF).

FACT’s president, David Fowler, who as an attorney is handling the lawsuit on behalf of the CGDF, said the following:

It is very gratifying that the judge recognized the fact that no state court in Tennessee and no federal court have determined the effect of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision on Tennessee marriage license law. Sadly, most people have been willing to overlook the legal and constitutional questions left open by Obergefell, making this the only case of its kind in the nation. So we are grateful that the judge believes our clients have the legal right to raise those questions and that he is willing to decide them.

Background to the Litigation

In January 2016, CGDF filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Bradley County, Tenn., minister and County Commissioner. The suit asked the court to determine whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, had invalidated Tennessee marriage license law or whether the Court, by that decision, had for the first time in history effectively “amended” a state law.

The lawsuit highlights the fact that the Obergefell Court held that “state laws are invalid to the extent they exclude same-sex couples from marriage,” yet states are acting as if their laws are not only still valid, but have been effectively “amended” by the Court’s decision in a way that eliminates the “male and female” language from state statutes, such as is found in Tennessee law.

The U.S. Supreme Court and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals have previously held that any decision by a federal court as to whether unconstitutional language in a state statute can be eliminated so as to “save” the statute from being completely unconstitutional is a state court issue. It is for that reason that the CGDF believes the Obergefell Court did not address and left open the question of whether state marriage license laws had any continuing validity.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which David Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on marriage, families, life, and religious liberty. FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values God’s design for the family, for the sake of the common good. For more information, visit FACTn.org.

Media Contact: Laura Bagby, Director of Communications | Office Phone: 615-261-1338 | email: laura.bagby@factn.org

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Trump’s Religious Liberty Executive Order a Start

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (May 4, 2017) — The following statement concerning President Trump’s executive order regarding religious liberty may be attributed to FACT President David Fowler:

In February, the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT) joined with Family Policy Alliance and its network of 39 state-based family policy councils in sending a letter to President Trump asking him to make good on his campaign promise to protect religious freedom.

Today’s executive order is a good first step in protecting our first and most fundamental liberty. It addresses in a limited way the Johnson Amendment that has been used by the IRS to intimidate conservative ministers, but we call on the President to provide the leadership Congress needs to repeal it.

We also join others in calling on the President to now take those additional steps necessary to fulfill the promise made during his campaign to fully protect religious liberty, particularly the liberty of those who believe in the sanctity of life and marriage.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which David Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on marriage, families, life, and religious liberty. FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values God’s design for the family, for the sake of the common good. For more information, visit FACTn.org.

Media Contact: Laura Bagby, Director of Communications | Office Phone: 615-261-1338 | email: laura.bagby@factn.org

Our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom share this video moment with President Trump at the Iowa Faith and Family Coalition in September 2015 from the Patriotic Populist.