Tennessee Ministers Fight Gay Marriage Ruling

     (CN) – Preachers claim in court that last year’s landmark Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling requires that no marriage licenses be issued in Tennessee until a new statute is passed.
     George Grant, Larry Tomczak and Lyndon Allen are ministers at churches in Middle Tennessee, according to a lawsuit they filed Jan. 21 against Elaine Anderson, clerk of Williamson County, Tenn.
     The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell vs. Hodges last year struck down state laws that banned same-sex couples from marrying.
     The ministers say that, because the Supreme Court invalidated Tennesse’s marriage law, the state can’t issue any new marriage licenses until a new law is enacted.
     “If Tennessee’s statutory marriage laws are invalid and unenforceable, then minister plaintiffs do not know if marriage ceremonies they officiate…constitute a marriage under common law,” the 8-page complaint states.
     The plaintiffs say that the Tennessee General Assembly is the only authority in the matter.
     “Neither the county clerks nor the U.S. Supreme Court nor the governor of Tennessee have any inherent authority to interpret a statute to mean what it was never intended to mean and have no inherent legislative authority to ‘amend’ the plain language of a statute,” the lawsuit states.
     In addition, Tennessee law only recognizes civil marriages between one man and one woman, the preachers argue.
     “All marriage statutes regarding marriage licenses preceding the current statutes were enacted at a time when sexual relations between two people of the same sex was a criminal offense,” the complaint states. “No statute lawfully adopted by any General Assembly has ever authorized a county clerk to issue a marriage license to any two persons other than one man and one woman.”
     Joining the three ministers as plaintiffs are Tim McCorkle and Deborah Deaver, residents of Williamson County.
     The pastors and citizens are represented by David Fowler of the Constitutional Government Defense Fund. Fowler is also president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee.
     Hedy Weinberg, ACLU of Tennessee executive director, said in a statement that the lawsuit “undermines our American value that the government should treat everyone equally under the law and not discriminate.”
     “Obergefell ensures that loving, committed same-sex couples in Tennessee and nationwide who want to build and share a life together will be treated with the same respect and dignity as everyone else,” Weinberg said. “The decision made clear that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right protected by the United States Constitution-and this decision is the law of the land.”

%d bloggers like this: