FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2016
CONTACT: Lindsay Kee, ACLU-TN communications director, 615-320-7142
NASHVILLE – On the heels of the defeat of a bill that attempted to nullify marriages between same-sex couples in Tennessee, the Family Action Council of Tennessee today announced the filing of a lawsuit that challenges how the United States Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges applies to Tennessee marriage laws.
In Obergefell, the U.S. Supreme Court held that under the constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection, states may not deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples and must recognize same-sex couples’ existing marriages. The decision was issued on June 26, 2015.
In response to the ruling, Tennessee legislators filed HB 1412, which asserted that marriage can only be between one man and one woman, “regardless of any court decision to the contrary.” Its intent was to nullify existing Tennessee marriages between same-sex couples and to stop marriages between same-sex couples going forward. HB 1412 failed in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee on January 20, 2016.
The following can be attributed to Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee:
This lawsuit is just one more attempt to circumvent the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell. It undermines our American value that the government should treat everyone equally under the law and not discriminate. Obergefell ensures that loving, committed same-sex couples in Tennessee and nationwide who want to build and share a life together will be treated with the same respect and dignity as everyone else. The decision made clear that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right protected by the United States Constitution—and this decision is the law of the land. Regardless of any personal opinions to the contrary, Obergefell in no way affects the religious liberty of those who are against marriage equality. Fair treatment of LGBT people and the right to religious freedom are not mutually exclusive. ACLU-TN remains committed to both and to ensuring equal treatment and protection for all Tennesseans.