The promised news conference on the Natural Marriage Defense Act lasted less than two minutes before Tennessee lawmakers had to give up; they were booed too loudly by protesters to speak. The two lawmakers responsible for introducing the bill, State Representative Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) and Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), held a news conference yesterday to discuss the details of their Marriage Bill and the proposed bathroom bill. When he was interrupted, Rep. Pody asked the protester if he would like to let him speak, but the man said he didn’t care either way. Ha! They left shortly after, giving up.

The bathroom bill was shelved last year after numerous businesses, especially in Nashville, threatened to move out of the state or stop expanding. Tennessee is no stranger to backwards, religiously based bills that test the courts. No, they do not have extra money laying around, but the one advantage is the governor of the state, Bill Haslam, is a traditional Republican; he’s not a Tea Party man, so he tends to be more reasonable and veto most of the crazy stuff his legislature comes up with. Last April, he vetoed the bill to make the Bible the official state book.

The Natural Marriage Defense Act is back in committee.

If passed, the legislation would “defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary.”

Beavers and Pody introduced a similar bill last year that included a fiscal note that pointed out the state could forfeit up to $8.5 billion dollars if passed due to loss of federal funding. A House panel subsequently squashed that bill.

Pody has not yet commented on the bill. But in 2015 he said, “I believe I’m supposed to be speaking to the unsaved, to the people that are performing same-sex marriages, to the people involved in same-sex marriage, it is wicked, it is wrong and I am doing the best I can to warn them.” (HuffPo)

The Bathroom Bill is similar to North Carolina’s, as it would require everyone to use the restroom based on the gender on their birth certificates.

Living in the Bible Belt truly frustrates me beyond belief. Tennessee has so many problems it needs to be spending its time trying to correct: public education, obesity, meth, infrastructure. It also has numerous wonderful attractions, like Nashville and Gatlinburg. Yet it is better known by many for its intolerance and hypocrisy than music culture and beauty.

I want to grab these people by the shoulders and scream, “Just STAHHHP! Your religion is yours and nobody else’s. Leave it at church!” And I would if I thought it would help. But these people see it as their road to Heaven, paved with laws that reflect what they interpret their god to tell them, based on what they want to hear. Nothing rational, nothing logical, is going to break through that mission they have made of their lives. We just have to hope their children are more reasonable.


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