LGBT Community 'Firing on All Cylinders' As State Bill, County Resolution Hit Roadblocks
Efforts to undermine the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in favor of same-sex marriage are starting to backfire — miserably — in Tennessee.
On Thursday, headlines, first from The New Civil Rights Movement and later from some of Tennessee's largest newspapers, including The Tennesseean and Nashville Scene, blared that an anti-gay marriage bill — introduced by GOP Rep. Mark Pody, who claims to be a "fiscal conservative" — could cost the state $8.5 billion in federal funds annually if it passes.
Then, instead of approving a proposed a resolution that would have effectively endorsed the bill, the Rutherford County Commission amended the measure Thursday night so that it actually calls on the General Assembly to uphold the U.S. Constitution, which of course includes the freedom to marry.
On top of all that, the push to defy the high court's ruling, led by groups like the Family Action Council of Tennessee, is galvanizing the state's LGBT community.
"The media response to the TN 'Natural Marriage Defense Act' is just where we want it — overwhelmed by the cost of the legislation!" Executive Director Chris Sanders wrote Thursday on the Tennessee Equality Project's Facebook page, adding that a petition against the bill has garnered more than 1,000 signatures. "It helps when we achieve victories like Rutherford County. The more we slow down, amend, or contain those anti-marriage equality resolutions, the less drive state legislators have to pass the TN Natural Marriage Defense Act. Despite how horrible the bill is, we're all firing on all cylinders."
About 85 supporters of same-sex marriage, dressed in red, showed up for the Rutherford County Commission meeting Thursday night, with six of them speaking against the proposed anti-gay resolution. No one spoke in favor of it, and commissioners ultimately watered it down so much that it could actually be interpreted as an endorsement of same-sex marriage.
Fox 17 News' Jen French reported from the meeting:
Rutherford county commission calling on TN general assembly to "uphold state and US" constitution. Why are we here— Jen French (@JenFrenchFOX17) January 15, 2016
Commissioners not sure what they're voting on now— Jen French (@JenFrenchFOX17) January 15, 2016
Fox 17 later reported that "it's not clear what the resolution accomplishes — if anything."
At least four counties in East Tennessee have passed anti-gay marriage resolutions in recent weeks, but in the southeastern suburbs of progressive Nashville, residents weren't having it.
"It has no legal effect and is simply an embarrassment to the citizens of Rutherford County," Sara Mitchell told commissioners, according to The Daily Journal. "We don't need to fight the Civil War again."
"Leave the LGBT community alone," said Caleb Banks, who compared the state's marriage amendment to Jim Crow laws. "We will not be dominated by hate and bigotry."
“What happened was the commissioners needed a way of saving face so they didn’t utterly withdraw the resolution, they just kept amending it until it didn’t do what it originally said,” the Equality Project's Sanders said.
In response to the news about his bill’s astronomical fiscal note, Pody told The Tennesseean he hopes to work with legislative fiscal analysts to lower the cost of the bill — but he also vowed to continue pursuing it.
"I am a fiscal conservative, so I'm one that would want that to be addressed properly," Pody said.
Who knows, given that Pody has said God told him to file the bill, maybe he can convince the good Lord to pick up the tab?
Image: Screenshot via Fox 17