Tennessee Republicans are waging another war on same-sex marriage, one that could wind up costing the state billions. In June 2015, the United States Supreme Court struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage, effectively legalizing it in the U.S.
But now “The Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act” seeks to force state officials to “defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary.”
The measure specifies that anyone failing to comply with court orders can’t be arrested. And the state attorney general is required to defend the law in subsequent court challenges.
So, Republicans are attempting to bypass the Supreme Court by knocking Tennessee out of sync with the rest of the country. If HB1369 passes, Tennessee will be violating numerous laws, according to The Friendly Atheist’s David Gee — And hemorrhaging massive amounts of money, according to a report from the state’s Fiscal Review Committee.
This isn’t the first time Tennessee Republicans have attempted this. The current measure, sponsored by Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) and Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) is just the most recent edition. Both filed earlier versions of this bill in 2016 and 2017.
They make think the bill will get a better reception this time, but Gee notes that even though Tennessee is GOP-land, Republicans aren’t likely to be on board with reigniting this culture war. Younger Republicans aren’t likely to defend the measure either and even in Tennessee denying rights to gay people is not looked on kindly.
So what makes this measure so pricey?
It may gut TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program because, as noted above, federal law states that it’s illegal to deny coverage to someone in a same-sex marriage. In attempting to circumvent this, the Tennessee law may jeopardize TennCare’s $7.4 billion in federal funding.
But this also means trouble for the Department of Health and Human Services because two of it’s most important programs — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program may also suffer. And these two programs total more than $2 billion.
Another $100,000 could be thrown away due to legal fees if the state’s attorney general decides not to defend the law in court. Plus, the state’s reputation would almost certainly take a massive hit as conventions flee and businesses move to other states.
There’s a good chance that just like the previous years, this measure won’t pass. Let’s hope that holds true.
Republicans love to say their party is the fiscal responsibility. You wouldn’t know that considering that some in Tennessee are conspiring to commit massive harm to fit their cruel and outdated agenda.