Tennessee Republicans have filed a bill that rejects the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision.
The Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act aims to protect court clerks and ministers from prosecution or civil action if they have religious objections to marrying same-sex couples.
State Rep. Mark Pody of Lebanon and state Sen. Mae Beavers said their legislation defends the 2006 constitutional amendment stating that the state only recognizes marriages between a man and woman.
Pody said the Supreme Court’s decision overturning gay marriage bans in Tennessee and 13 other states is “one of the most glaring examples of judicial activism” in court history.
“It not only tramples on states’ rights, but has paved the way for an all-out assault on the religious freedoms of Christians who disagree with it,” he said.
The legislation comes weeks after Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, was jailed for five days for defying a federal court order that her office issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She cited religious reasons for her refusal.
Joe Davis, her husband, attended a Nashville rally last week alongside Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz, where the legislation was announced. About 40 state lawmakers attended the event, according to The Tennessean.
Beavers said the court’s decision is “clearly and blatantly an overstep” of its authority.
“Natural marriage between one man and one woman as recognized by the people of this state remains the law, regardless of any court decision to the contrary,” she said.
The Tennessee Equality Project is launching a social media campaign opposing the bill.
Executive Director Chris Sanders said the legislation is harmful even though it would probably not survive a court challenge. He wrote on The Huffington Post that some local officials might try to use it to discriminate against same-sex couples.