A bill seeking to block the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling in Tennessee was defeated Wednesday in the state House over concerns about nullifying federal rulings according to the Associated Press.
The Civil Justice Subcommittee voted 4-1 against the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act sponsored by Republican Rep. Mark Pody of Lebanon, who argued that the ruling should not supersede an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. State Senator Mae Beavers sponsored the bill in the Senate.
More than 80 percent of Tennessee voters approved that amendment in 2006 that included a provision to declare that any judicial interpretation to the contrary “shall be void and unenforceable in Tennessee.”
Last year’s Supreme Court decision was based on cases in four states including Tennessee, where three couples had sued to have their out-of-state marriages recognized.
Republican Rep. Mike Carter of Chattanooga said that although he disagrees with the high court’s ruling, he considered the proposal to be a step too far.
“Nullification scares the daylights out of me,” Carter said. “Because no one will answer me who has the authority to nullify, and nobody will answer me where that authority is derived.”
Carter was among two Republicans and two Democrats who voted against the bill. Bristol’s Rep. Jon Lundberg was the other Republican dissenter, and Bill Beck and Sherry Jones, both of Nashville, were the Democrats.
Republican Rep Jim Coley, the panel’s chairman from the Memphis suburb of Bartlett, was the lone vote in favor of the bill.
Legislative analysts estimated that if the state were to refuse services to same-sex couples, Tennessee could stand to lose $6.5 billion in federal Medicaid money and another $2 billion in food stamp and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds.
But supporters of the measure urged lawmakers to act now against the gay marriage ruling regardless of the cost.