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Ninety Tennessee state legislators, hoping to keep a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage on next year's ballot, have asked to join a lawsuit that seeks to block the vote. The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the Tennessee Equality Project, three state legislators, and several individuals filed a lawsuit in Davidson County chancery court earlier this year challenging the way lawmakers took up the resolution. The legislators want to be defendants in the lawsuit and be represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal group. A hearing was scheduled for Wednesday.
The house and senate overwhelmingly approved a bill to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. It is set to go before voters in November 2006.
Republican representative Bill Dunn, who sponsored the amendment, says the ACLU's lawsuit threatens the power of the legislature, according to an affidavit. "I, as well as the other intervening legislators, will suffer loss to our legislative power to adopt legislation for ratification by the people," Dunn said. "In addition, the amendment's sponsors, and I as chief sponsor, risk harm to our personal reputations and integrity as lawmakers if the amendment is declared invalid."
State attorney general Paul G. Summers, who argues that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the proper procedures were followed, does not think the legislators need to join the lawsuit because he can represent their interests. The ACLU opposes the intervention of the legislators.
All 46 Republicans in the house and 16 of 17 in the senate have asked to intervene. The holdout in the senate was Jamie Hagood of Knoxville, who voted for the amendment. There are 21 Democrats in the house and 16 in the senate who also want to be included.
The three legislators who filed the lawsuit are house Democrats Tommie Brown of Chattanooga and Beverly Marrerro and Larry Turner of Memphis. (AP)