Legislators debate bill allowing refusal of solemnizing marriages
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow people to refuse to perform a marriage if they disagree with it.
House Bill 0878 states that a person is not required to solemnize a marriage if the person has an objection to solemnizing the marriage based on the person’s conscience or religious beliefs.
Tennessee law already says that religious leaders do not have to officiate weddings they object to, but critics say the new bill goes beyond that and could allow county clerks to refuse to certify marriage licenses to same-sex, inter-faith, or interracial couples.
Rep. Monty Fritts says the bill is meant to protect the rights of those officiating wedding ceremonies, but other lawmakers don’t agree.
“There are no examples where this has happened. There’s no example where someone has not or has refused to solemnize a marriage, and yet we’re creating legislation about it,” said Rep. Justin Pearson.
Pearson went on to say this type of legislation is harmful in the message that it sends of who has rights in the state.
The bill passed the house on Monday 74 to 22 and now moves to the state Senate.
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