Tennessee Republicans are introducing legislation that would defy the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, ostensibly aimed at triggering a lawsuit that will bring the issue back in front of a now more conservative Supreme Court, according to LGBTQ Nation.
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 clearly defies the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, but Sexton said “states were ‘left with confusion’ after the decision, implying – perhaps in bad faith – that he believes that his bill could be constitutional under Obergefell.”
He told The Tennessean that states must pass laws “that go back to the courts and let them be challenged,” though Sexton also claimed he is not aiming to spark a lawsuit with this particular bill: “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.