Tennessee welcomes you - unless you are gay

God’s self-elected representative in Tennessee is State Senator Mark Pody. Three years ago, then Rep. Pody championed the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act which aimed to override the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges which nullified such bans. The measure died in committee. Pody has now re-filed the bill (SB-1282). State Rep. Jerry Sexton filed the companion bill (HB-1369).

Marriage – As introduced, enacts the “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act,” which states the policy of Tennessee to defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary. – Amends TCA Title 36.

The proposed measure even attempts to make it illegal to arrest county clerks who fail to comply with federal court orders. (Mazel tov.)

Perhaps they think that they can get this before the Supreme Court and that the Court will agree to hear the case and to then overturn Obergefell. It seems highly unlikely and would probably take three or four years. (Obergefell, for example, started with DeBoer v. Snyder in January, 2012.) The Supreme Court receives about 8,000 petitions each year and agrees to hear about 80 cases.

Officials previously estimated that such a bill could cost the state more than $9 billion in federal funding.

When did they stop teaching basic civics in public schools? The Supreme Court in Obergefell determined that laws banning same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution clearly establishes that the Constitution takes precedence over state and local law.

This is similar to the actions of southern states to maintain segregation and to invalidate the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We went through this after the ruling in Brown v. Board of Education desegregated schools in the Jim Crow South.

Shortly after Brown the Arkansas legislature amended the state’s constitution in order for segregation to remain in effect. The Little Rock school board (which was desegregating) brought suit in federal court to delay integration because of interference by the legislature and the governor. The court ruled in their favor. However the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court. Ultimately the case made its way to the Supreme Court.

At the Supreme Court this became Cooper v. Aaron. The governor and the legislature asserted that they were not bound by the decision in Brown v. Board of Education. That is essentially what these two legislative idiots are trying to do.

In Cooper the Court held that the Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the Constitution made the Constitution the supreme law of the land. The ruling in Marbury v. Madison made the Supreme Court the final arbiter of the Constitution. Therefore, Brown v. Board of Education was binding on the states, regardless of any state laws contradicting it. Now the same thing is true with respect to Obergefell. The decision in Cooper was unanimous.

Patriot’s Brigade of Tennessee

Rep. Sexton has said that his attempt to invalidate Obergefell has the full support of the Patriot’s Brigade of Tennessee (“PBT”). Assuming there is more than one “patriot” the name of the organization should be Patriots’ Brigade but I digress.

The organization’s website provides little information about who they are or where they are located. Nevertheless, this is the handiwork of Terrance R. Craig of Mosheim, TN. Perhaps there is just one “patriot” after all.

For people who claim to be patriots they do not seem to know very much about the U.S. Constitution. Moreover, they are wed to Christian Nation™ mythology and seek to effect a theocracy:

The Patriot’s Brigade’s purpose and our resolve is to restore that which our Creator gave to us through our founding fathers: a Christian form of government. We pray that God will grant us the wisdom and ability to re-establish and maintain the Constitution of the United States of America as the supreme law of the land.

These patriots are profoundly unpatriotic. PBT does not like a decision of the Supreme Court. Supposedly constitutional patriots, they do not understand the Supremacy Clause. Nor, for that matter, are they aware of Marbury v. Madison. To repeat, Marbury (perhaps the most important Supreme Court ruling ever) established in 1803 that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the Constitution.

PBT has a lawyer

Patriot’s Brigade of Tennessee is represented by Jeffrey Alan Cobble, a sole practitioner. Mr. Cobble has stellar credentials. Undergrad at Pensacola Christian College; J.D. from Pat Robertson’s Regent University. Are you not suitably impressed?

Mr. Cobble sent a letter to the Tennessee AG, Herbert H. Slattery III. It’s a classic so I will quote the first three paragraphs:

I count as one of my very valued clients the organization Patriot’s Brigade of Tennessee (PBT). The
leadership of that organization recently brought to my attention that they had received no response from
your [sic] regarding a prior letter sent to you. The organization had previously been notified by you by email of
their concerns about erroneous information given by, and unconstitutional actions taken by, the County
Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) back in 2015, said unconstitutional actions being attributed to the
authority of your office. A copy of their July 9, 2018 letter is attached for your review.

That letter to you was followed by an August 20, 2018 letter which again raised a legitimate constitutional
question about this state’s response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges same-sex marriage
opinion. A copy of their August 30, 2018 letter is also attached for your review.

Each letter raises important constitutional and public policy issues which affect the State of Tennessee
and its citizens. I feel that your office should investigate the issues and authorities raised in those letters
and offer a private, if not public, response.

If you have some spare brain cells you can read the voluminous correspondence which the AG’s office chose not to respond to. They probably chose not to read the accumulation of crazy — even in homophobic Tennessee. It includes a letter to all of the state’s mayors and county clerks urging them to nullify Obergefell. Apparently the patriots do not know that nullification is illegal and unconstitutional.

Attorney Cobble is insane in asking for a “private response.” As fouled up as Tennessee’s Open Records Act is (it is spectacularly byzantine), there is really no such thing as a private letter from the AG in matters like this.

And you thought that Chris Sevier was the nuttiest denizen of Tennessee. What is terrifying is that Terrance R. Craig, who signs correspondence as Chairman of the Board, is a retired Air Force Lt. Col. That means that he was probably a squadron commander (if not a staff officer). The notion that this clearly unbalanced, bigoted and ignorant individual could give orders begs the question of how many other batshit officers are there in the military?

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.