Tennessee bill creating common law marriages limited to one man and one woman heading to college

NASHVILLE — A Tennessee bill that seeks to create common-law marriages limited to one man and one woman was sent for summer study Wednesday after the sponsor said the controversial measure, which has generated a wave criticism from LGBTQ groups and others, needs more work.

“There have been several good suggestions from the subcommittee as well as from this committee regarding this bill,” Rep. Tom Leatherwood, R-Arlington, the sponsor of the bill, told committee members. civil justice of the Chamber. “And those suggestions resulted in amendments, and I think they resulted in a strong bill.”

“However,” Leatherwood added, “there is still a lot of genuine concern about this bill as well as a lot of misinformation about this bill. And therefore, I think it would be good if we let’s just take a little more thoughtful approach to reviewing this bill as part of the summer study.

The measure, House Bill 233, was promoted by Tennessee Family Action Council Chairman David Fowler, a former Signal Mountain state senator, among others. A religious and social conservative who has lobbied for a number of bills targeting the LGBTQ community, Fowler has pursued various legal strategies and bills in a so far unsuccessful effort to undermine the landmark Supreme Court ruling. United States in 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges, who legalized the same. – sexual marriages.

Critics accused the bill as drafted of legalizing child marriages, as it does not stipulate that those who enter into common-law marriages must be at least 18 years old. Last week, Leatherwood argued that was not the case, but proposed an amendment to ensure that a man and a woman must be at least 18 years old.

That still hasn’t resolved concerns expressed by Rep. Johnny Garrett, a Republican and Goodlettsville lawyer who raised objections to the bill, which, among other things, would not have required a common-law marriage be registered with local governments.

This could create problems in areas ranging from home ownership and bank loans to a spouse being denied benefits, Garrett warned.

Leatherwood introduced an amendment on Wednesday requiring a common-law marriage to be registered with local governments before his application to study the legislation over the summer.

“I know I expressed some concerns last week,” Garrett told Leatherwood. “Those concerns are still there, and I think that’s what it’s all about, lawmakers getting together and determining the best way forward. And then, if there’s a way forward for this particular legislation , I think it needs to be studied to kind of understand the ins and outs of the concerns and the issues. I really appreciate that you are working very hard to get this legislation in the best possible position.

Nashville attorney Abby Rubenfeld, one of the attorneys involved in the Obergefell case challenging the state’s same-sex marriage laws in Tennessee, warned members of the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month that if the Common Law Marriage Bill were passed, it would be “patently unconstitutional”.

That’s because it creates two separate paths to marriage, Rubenfeld said.

“From a legal standpoint, this bill as passed is going to be challenged,” she told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Mike Bell, R-Riceville and other members of the panel.

Rubenfeld also said his company raised $2 million from the state of Tennessee in its challenge to the state constitution’s ban, which was overturned in the Obergefell decision.

The bill went to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but final Senate action was delayed pending the fate of the House companion bill.

Contact Andy Sher at [email protected] or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.

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