Originally published on Advocate.com May 07 2004 12:00 AM ET
The Tennessee house of representatives voted 86-5 Thursday for a proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit gay marriages in Tennessee. The proposal was approved with no discussion.
The proposal would introduce the definition of marriage that already exists in state law into the Tennessee constitution. That law says marriage is a union between one man and one woman and that any other type of arrangement that may be recognized in another state or nation as a marriage would not be recognized in Tennessee. In presenting the amendment, its sponsor, Rep. Bill Dunn, acknowledged that he "got a late start" because "I spent a lot of time thinking about it. I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing and doing it for the right reasons."
Dunn said that even though he hesitated to bring the amendment, he felt his hand was forced by the state supreme court. "Our supreme court has not hesitated to legislate from the bench," he said. "Therefore this is needed to uphold the will of the people and the legislature."
The proposal still has several hurdles to cross because the constitution spells out a complex process for passing amendments. The resolution still must be read three times in the senate before the legislature adjourns, which is expected within two weeks.
It then has to be read three times in each chamber during the next two-year general assembly, which begins in January. On the third reading it must be approved by a two-thirds vote in each chamber. If that happens, it would go before the voters for adoption or rejection in the 2006 general election. To pass, it must be approved by the number of voters equal to a majority of ballots cast in the gubernatorial election that year.