Tennessee, Public officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages


Tennessee, Public officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages


Tennessee governor signs bill allowing public officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages

BY LAUREN SFORZA - 02/21/24 9:14 PM ET

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a bill Wednesday allowing public officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

State lawmakers approved Tennessee House Bill 878 last week. The legislation states people “shall not be required to solemnize a marriage” if they refuse to doing so based on their “conscience or religious beliefs.” According to the Tennessee Legislature website, the governor signed the bill Wednesday.

Lee has not publicly commented on the bill yet, per his social media and his office’s website.

The bill does not allow officials to deny marriage licenses to couples based on their beliefs but prevents officials from being required to solemnize a marriage. The State House first passed the bill in March 2023, but the State’s General Assembly booted it to 2024 for consideration.

Lee was thrown into the spotlight last year after signing a bill that became the first-in-the-nation restriction on drag performances, and banned gender-affirming health care for transgender youth. A federal judge later ruled that the restrictions on drag shows were unconstitutional.

The legislation has faced criticism from LGBTQ advocacy organizations. Molly Whitehorn, associate director of regional campaigns for the Human Rights Campaign, said last week the bill was “intended to exclude LGBTQ+ folks from equal protection under the law.”

Tennessee Republicans argued that the bill was not meant to discriminate against same-sex couples or prevent them from getting married. State Sen. Mark Pody (R), the bill’s primary sponsor in the Senate, said on the Senate floor last week that the bill has “nothing to do with getting a license.”

The Hill has reached out to Lee’s office for further comment.