Republican lawmakers in Tennesse want to ban gay marriage in the state. The “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act” was first proposed in 2016, just a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was federal law. The bill, which was reintroduced on Friday, seeks to “defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary,” according to NBC News.

The bill was introduced by Republicans Sen. Mark Pody and Rep. Jerry Sexton and also prohibits government officials from facilitating same-sex marriages. The proposed bill failed in the state’s House of Representatives last session but it’s currently unclear how it will fare this time. In 2017, the General Assembly estimated that the Natural Marriage Defense Act could cause approximately $9 billion in federal funding to be withheld from the state.

“As a native Tennessean, it’s disappointing to see lawmakers pushing more mean, pointless legislation that would do nothing except single out LGBTQ people in an effort to make us feel less than equal,” Nick Morrow, press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, tells NBC News. “Marriage equality is settled law, and if Tennessee wants to continue to be a welcoming destination for businesses, tourists and transplants alike, our representatives need to join us in the year 2019.”

Tennessee is one of four states in the country that is over 50 percent evangelical Christian and according to Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, there is still some prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community in the state—and that’s why the proposed legislature keeps coming up.

“Tennesseans who are in committed same-sex relationships simply want to be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else,” Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU in Tennessee, tells NBC News. “A handful of state legislators cannot nullify the law of the land and drive our state backward simply because they wish to discriminate. The ACLU of Tennessee, along with many partners, will be working hard to defeat this narrow-minded, blatantly unconstitutional legislation.”

 

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