States Introduce Bills to Ban Marriage Equality to Get It Back in Front of SCOTUS

Republican lawmakers are calling gay marriages "parody marriages."

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kansas have introduced bills that, if passed, would ban same-sex marriage statewide, despite the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing it nationwide. The court has gotten more conservative since then, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh taking the seat of retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, who provided the swing vote in favor of same-sex marriage.

same-sex marriage supreme court
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Marriage Equality supporters celebrate the SCOTUS decision.

North Carolina

In North Carolina, Reps. Larry Pittman, Mark Brody, and Keith Kidwell sponsored HB 65, the “Marriage Amendment Reaffirmation Act.” It would defer to the state’s constitutional amendment, passed in 2012, that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and ignore the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling that made marriage equality the federal law of the land.

The bill refers to same-sex marriages as “parody marriages.” It also argues that gay marriages are a form of secular humanism, which the Supreme Court ruled was a religion in Torcaso v. Watkins.

It continues, stating “the only model for marriage that simply follows the scientifically obvious biology of human beings is the ancient model of marriage between a man and a woman, and therefore, marriage policies that endorse marriage as being between a man and a woman are thus secular in nature as relates to the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

“On the eve of Valentine’s Day, three NC reps filed a bill to say ’Love is not Love,'” said Equality NC in a statement. “This is yet another heartless attempt to rewrite settled legislation that protects same-sex couples all across the state. Love will prevail in the face of hate.”

Republicans lost their supermajority in the general assembly, which had allowed them to veto Gov. Roy Cooper, who is on record as supportive of marriage equality.

Kansas

Kansas Republicans introduced a bill, HB 2320, the “Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act,” which attempts to ban same-sex marriage as well, but doesn’t stop there. It also looks to undo non-discrimination policies protecting the LGBTQ community, prevent trans and gender non-conforming individuals from being called by their pronouns, prevent the banning of conversion therapy, and even goes after drag queen story time events held at libraries.

At one point, the bill likens being LGBTQ with bestiality, polygamy, and objectophilia, which is the sexual attraction to inanimate objects.

It, like North Carolina’s proposed legislation, uses the term “parody marriages” to refer to same-sex couples, and also argues members of the LGBTQ community are inherently secular humanists, and that these concerns come from that religious viewpoint.

A sister bill, HB 2321, the “Optional Elevated Marriage Act,” says same-sex marriages “erode community standards of decency, unlike secular marriage between a man and a woman, who have reached the age of consent.”

Equality Kansas executive director Thomas Witt characterized the bills as “18 pages of insults and name calling” that would make deceased Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps proud.

The bill was introduced by Reps. Garber, Donohoe, French, Helmer, Highland, Huebert, and Rhiley.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly restored non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ state workers, and would likely veto the bill were it to reach her desk.

Tennessee

Republican Reps. Mark Pody and Jerry Sexton introduced the “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act,” first proposed in 2016 and recently reintroduced, seeks to “defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary.”

It would declare the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling “unauthoritative, void, and of no effect.”

It failed in the House last session, but Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, said it’s not yet clear what its chances are this year.

“We’ll have a better understanding of the likelihood of the bill passing after the first committee hearing, so that’ll be key,” Sanders told NBC.

“It’s just too early for me to get into the details and say what the exact intent of it is,” Sexton told The Tennessean when asked if its intent was to ban same-sex marriage. “We’ve got to get it exactly right so that we can explain it. I’m not ready to explain it in depth.”

When the General Assembly’s fiscal review committee analyzed the bill in 2017, it reported that it could cost the state roughly $9 billion in federal funding.

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