Metro Weekly

Tennessee county challenging SCOTUS gay marriage ruling

Anti-gay group urging multiple counties to push for constitutional convention to overturn Obergefell decision

Unicoi County Courthouse (Photo: courthouselover, via Flickr).
Unicoi County Courthouse (Photo: courthouselover, via Flickr).

A Tennessee county is poised to become one of many adopting resolutions calling for an overturn of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized marriage equality this past summer.

Pushed by the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), the Unicoi County Commission voted to have the county’s attorney review two versions of a resolution that asks the Tennessee General Assembly to uphold the Volunteer State’s previous ban on same-sex marriage. That ban, which was approved by a majority of voters in 2006, was overturned and found to be unconstitutional after the Supreme Court’s decision in June. The resolution asks the legislature to uphold the state constitution’s definition of marriage and to refuse to accept the opinion in the Obergefell v. Hodges case as legally binding. 

The purpose of introducing the resolutions is to compel the General Assembly to pass legislation to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages as valid. By openly defying the Supreme Court, and pushing other states to follow suit, opponents of same-sex marriage hope to gain support from at least 38 of the 50 states to push for a constitutional convention to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling. As part of its push to compel the Tennessee General Assembly to act, FACT is shopping around the same resolutions to other Tennessee counties, the Johnson City Press reports. 

The first resolution is identical to one adopted earlier this year by country commissioners in Johnson County, and the second is a similar resolution drafted by FACT that its representatives believe has a better chance of passing constitutional muster. Similar resolutions have been adopted in Sullivan, Greene and McMillan counties, and is expected to be voted upon soon by Hawkins and Carter counties. 

Unicoi Commission Chairwoman Marie Rice requested that the county’s attorney study the two resolutions and draft a resolution for the full commission to consider and vote on at its January meeting next month. The commissioners then moved unanimously via a voice vote to table the resolution until that time.

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