Tennessee Lawmakers Try To Defy Supreme Court With “Natural Marriage Act”

Sponsors of the bill insist same-sex marriage is unlawful and all unlawful orders "should be resisted.”

Think the Supreme Court is the final word on legal issues in this country? Tennessee Republicans don’t—they’re trying to undo Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 ruling that brought marriage equality to all 50 states, with bill that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.

Mae Beavers

The Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act, filed simultaneously by Sen. Mae Beavers in the Senate and Rep. Mark Pody in the House, would ignore the highest court in the land. Despite the Supreme Court’s verdict, the two legislators insist same-sex marriage is unlawful and all unlawful orders “should be resisted.”

“It’s frustrating because we’ve already settled this,” said Mt. Juliet resident Daryn Jackson, echoing the sentiments of many. “I have friends that are rightfully concerned for their marriages.”

Jackson and her girlfriend were among those asking questions about the new bill, but Pody and Beavers said they’d address the act in an upcoming press conference. “I see some signs back there and they’re concerning other bills I’m a sponsor of,” said Pody. “The issue that we’ll be addressing tonight will be the gas tax issue.”

On Facebook last night, Jackson said she was proud she and other constituents made their presence known.

“We held our ground, engaged with them about the gas tax, and held their feet to the fire about a promised town hall where they would be willing to discuss these other bills with us, as well,” she wrote. “They were unable to say when or where that meeting would take place. It was a huge crowd… and they know we are watching.”

While Donald Trump has said he considers the issue of same-sex marriage “settled,” opponents are using a variety of tactics to limit or undo the ruling. The Texas Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that would limit benefits to same-sex spouses, while North Dakota still refuses to update government forms that list “husband and wife.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.