Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tennessee Lawmakers Kill Anti-Gay Marriage Bill with $8.5 Billion Price Tag

Nowhere has the GOP prostituted itself more to Christofascists and extremists than on the issue of same sex marriage.  Despite the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell striking down marriage bans nationwide, Republican legislators continue to introduce state bills that would undermine the ruling or grant licenses to discriminate to the Kool-Aid drinking "godly folk."  Nine such bills are currently in the Virginia General Assembly, all introduced by Republicans. Never mind that a majority of Americans support the Obergefell ruling - with today's GOP, its ALL about pandering to extremism and bigotry and racism.  In Tennessee, an extreme GOP backed bill was introduced that would have costs that state $8.5 billion in lost revenues.  Thankfully, the price tag shocked enough lawmakers that the bill was killed in committee.  The New Civil Rights Movement looks at the GOP lunacy.  Here are highlights:

Tennessee State Rep. Mark Pody's bill that would have voided all marriages of same-sex couples, costing taxpayers an estimated $8.5 billion, has been defeated. Lawmakers on the House Civil Justice Subcommittee listened to religious and legal arguments for about 90 minutes, but on a voice vote elected to not move the legislation forward.

The Natural Marriage Defense Act would have declared all marriages of same-sex couples "void and unenforceable in Tennessee," specifically citing the Supreme Court's decision last year in Obergefell, stating it is invalid and that the State would ignore it.

[A] state-required fiscal impact report found the legislation, should it become law, would cost the taxpayers of Tennessee $8.5 billion annually. Those costs do not appear to include court and legal costs. The majority of the costs would come as the withdrawal of federal funding of Tennessee's Obamacare program, food stamps (SNAP), and welfare payments (TANF).

While some of the debate focused on constitutional issues, including nullification of a Supreme Court ruling, some, thanks to pastors who spoke before the committee, included traditional anti-gay rhetoric. One pastor warned that same-sex marriage is “the invasion of the wicked agenda that is coming against the Church.”

Lawmakers were begged to offer Tennessee pastors "relief" from the fear of being forced to marry same-sex couples, despite the obvious fact that the First Amendment would prohibit such a governmental action. One speaker insisted that clerks charged with issuing marriage licenses are upset for having to do their job for same-sex couples. Kentucky clerk Kim Davis was mentioned.

At the last minute an attempt was made to hold the bill over but on technical grounds that was not allowed. It should be expected the legislation, perhaps in a different format, will be filed again in the next session.

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