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Natural Marriage Defense Act may eliminate same sex marriage

In 2015, the United States Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal all across the country with their ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Because of this ruling, same-sex couples in every state are legally permitted to marry and have their marriages recognized by the court system. Same-sex couples are also allowed to divorce and are subject to the same divorce court procedures as other couples. However, a new bill, sponsored by Representative Mark Pody and Senator Mae Beavers, may cause same-sex family law issues in Tennessee. The bill will soon be brought in front of the House Civil Justice Subcommittee.

The bill states that only "natural marriage between one man and one woman" will be recognized in Tennessee, in spite of the Supreme Court ruling. As a result, same-sex couples who were married in Tennessee or in any other state will see their marriages be null and void in Tennessee. The bill also states that same-sex married couples may be denied certain services that are offered to different-sex married couples.

Passing this bill comes with a steep price. If health service organization TennCare denies coverage to same-sex couples who are eligible under federal law, $7 billion in federal funds will be lost. Tennessee also risks losing $2 billion from the Department of Human Services. Additionally, there will be a decrease in marriage licenses in the state, a loss of business and an increase in legal fees from future lawsuits.

In addition to financial difficulties, the passing of this bill will mean more protests and outrage among LGBT activists in Tennessee and across the nation. For now, however, same-sex marriage and divorce is legal in Tennessee.

Source: The Tennessean, "'Natural Marriage' bill could cost Tennessee over $9B," Kirk A. Bado, March 23, 2017

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