News (USA)

Tennessee GOP is trying to ban marriage equality again to get it back in front of the Supreme Court

A protestor with a rainbow flag outside the Supreme Court
Carlos McKnight of Washington, waves a flag in support of gay marriage outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday June 26, 2015. Photo: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Republican lawmakers in Tennessee have introduced legislation to ban same-sex couples from marrying.

Tennessee Senator Mark Pody (R) and Tennessee Representative Jerry Sexton (R) introduced the “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act” in their respective houses. The bill would ban state officials from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and protect the officials from lawsuits.

The state legislature’s fiscal review committee found that, if passed, the state could lose $7.1 billion in federal Medicaid money and $2 billion in federal SNAP benefits.

The law contradicts the 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, when the court ruled that banning same-sex couples from marrying violates people’s due process and equal protections rights.

But Sexton said that states were “left with confusion” after the decision, implying – perhaps in bad faith – that he believes that his bill could be constitutional under Obergefell.

Related: Tennessee lawmakers give OK to child marriage as insult to loving gay couples

“What we have to do is we have to pass laws that go back to the courts and let them be challenged,” he told The Tennesseean.

“I don’t know that this bill will do that. I’m not advocating a lawsuit or anything. We’re bringing it up for the discussion.”

Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project said that he believes that the point is to cause a lawsuit.

“The far right’s dream scenario is this would go back before the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court would accept it,” he said.

Anthony Kennedy, one of the Supreme Court justices who voted with the five-judge majority in Obergefell, is no longer on the Supreme Court and was replaced by Brett Kavanaugh.

This is the third time that the bill has been introduced in Tennessee.

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