NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee House of Representatives voted on Thursday to pass a resolution that expresses “strong disagreement” with the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion that all states must legalize same-sex “marriage.”
In a 73-18 vote, the House approved Joint Resolution 529, submitted by Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet. The resolution, which has no legislative weight, simply serves as a statement by lawmakers about their disagreement with the nullification of state constitutional amendments by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“They can’t decree that we now have to marry same-sex couples,” Lynn told the Tennessean. “Our law does not say that, it’s never said that, and it was never the intent of the General Assembly to do that.”
“Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the one hundred ninth general assembly of the state of Tennessee, the Senate concurring, that this body expresses its strong disagreement with the constitutional overreach in Obergefell v. Hodges that, in violation of the constitutional and judicially recognized principles of federalism and separation of powers, purports to allow federal courts to order or direct a state legislative body to affirmatively amend or replace a state statute,” it reads.
The resolution also cites the dissenting remarks of Chief Justice John Roberts and the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“Be it further resolved, this body concurs in the opinion of Chief Justice John Roberts, who in his dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges, said, ‘the Court’s accumulation of power does not occur in a vacuum. It comes at the expense of the people. And they know it,’ and acknowledges the reminder of Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissenting opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges that ‘with each decision of ours that takes from the people a question properly left to them—with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the reasoned judgment of a bare majority of this Court—we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence.”
The resolution was passed mainly along party lines, but with four Democrats voting in favor: Reps. John DeBerry Jr., Kevin Dunlap, Joe Pitts and John Mark Windle.
As previously reported, Tennessee was one of the states whose constitutional amendment on marriage had been upheld by the federal court—until it reached the Supreme Court.
“No one here claims that the states’ original definition of marriage was unconstitutional when enacted. The plaintiffs’ claim is that the states have acted irrationally in standing by the traditional definition in the face of changing social mores,” wrote Judge Jeffrey Sutton for the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals last November.
“If it is constitutionally irrational to stand by the man-woman definition of marriage, it must be constitutionally irrational to stand by the monogamous definition of marriage,” he asserted. “[But] the predicament does not end there. No state is free of marriage policies that go too far in some directions and not far enough in others, making all of them vulnerable…”
Tennessee’s Marriage Protection Amendment was passed in 2006 with the approval of 81 percent of voters.
Lynn’s resolution is expected to pass the Tennessee Senate.