Wednesday afternoon the Tennessee House of Representatives passed House Bill 878, which amends Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4; Title 29 and Title 36, relative to the subject of solemnization of marriage. This bill now grants permission for county clerks to refuse certifying a marriage if they disagree with the basis of the relationship between the two individuals, and discusses no alternatives for those who may be unfairly impacted by the merger of church and state.
As it was introduced in the house, the amendment explicitly states that objection to the marriage based on the person's conscious or religious beliefs are valid reasons to refuse solemnization. Considering the criticism voiced by those opposed to recent actions taken by Tennessee’s lawmakers, such as their legislative agenda following the controversial Roe v. Wade decision last year, it is likely that this bill will become a catalyst for action from voters on every part of the U.S. political spectrum.
The bill was originally filed on Jan. 30, 2023 and acquired four sponsors—totalling 18 representatives signing on for the amendment—over the course of its time in session.
Sadly, non-heterosexual and interracial marriages are the ones most likely to be discriminated against due to the protections enacted by HB 878. Common beliefs among many devout religious members, typically Christians in the U.S., is that homosexuality is “unnatural” and thus should not be enabled.
Influential members of the highest order in these religious organizations denounce such rhetoric and instead encourage their fellow believers to spread love and kindness among their respective communities.
In June of 2015 the Supreme Court overruled all state bans on same-sex marriages as a result of the Obergefell v. Hodges case. Likely due to the impact of the monumental decision during the Obama Administration and its ripple effects throughout society, the decades-long fight on behalf of the LGBTQIA+ community across the nation has seemingly been forgotten.
Many lawmakers, media figures, and voters have acted upon their “opposition to the lifestyles” of the LGBTQIA+ community due to the false belief that its members have an “agenda” that they are actively enforcing. In reality, these concepts are only now becoming visible thanks to the enablement of social media and the legal protections endowed by the highest court in the nation.
Sadly, through the usage of such language and a lack of legal protections being available the likelihood of discrimination being brought upon a minority group rises. A speaker at this years Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) event called for the “eradication of transgenderism”, a quote which exemplifies the mindsets of those opposed to the freedom of choice provided to members of the LGBTQIA+ community and the result of long-term enablement of dangerous rhetoric becoming normalized across multiple facets in American society.
As of the time of writing, President Biden nor his administration have provided comment on the passing of the amendment.
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