House Republicans have all but killed a bill this week that would prohibit child marriages in the state of Tennessee, citing a dubious legal theory that passing the bill could deter a radical Christian lawyer's case against the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. The Democratic bill calls for Tennessee to outlaw marriages where one of the parties is under the age of 18, but David Fowler, president of the Christian based Family Action Council of Tennessee intervened asking House Republicans to block the bill. Reported The Hill:
House Majority Leader Glen Casada (R) was convinced to send the bill to summer study in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee after an email from attorney David Fowler, a former state senator, The Tennessean reported on Wednesday.
Summer study is a place where bills often die before they return for debate, effectively killing the bill’s chances to be passed.
Fowler’s email said he is preparing a lawsuit to counter the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in the 2015 case of Obergefell v. Hodges.
Fowler is arguing that the Supreme Court’s ruling essentially nullified all Tennessee marriage licenses when it opened the spectrum of legal marriage beyond just between a man and a woman, The Tennessean reported.
If Tennessee were to ban child marriages by modifying state marriage law, lawmakers would be acknowledging the existence of same-sex marriage, according to Fowler’s legal theory.
It is good to know where the Republican Party's priorities lay -- with child molesters and child marriage (almost always when the woman is underage) -- and at the expense of consenting adults who wish to make a life together.
It appears as if Casada has now had a change of heart after intense media scrutiny, stating that he was "shocked" that judges in the state are able to grant marriage licenses to children as young as 12 (although had he allowed witnesses brought by the author of the bill, Rep. Darren Jernigan, D, to speak about it, he would have learned all about it). Republicans will now bring the bill back for debate, but it begs the question as to why Casada and other House Republicans sent if off for review in the first place, and why they felt gay marriage was such a grave threat to America that they had to block a bill preventing child marriage to stop it.