US: Tennessee lawmakers give OK to child marriage as insult to loving gay couples

Tennessee lawmakers have decided against changing the state’s marriage laws to outlaw child marriage, because the head of the “family values” group Family Action Council of Tennessee – wants to sue to try to overturn marriage equality.

The bill, sponsored by Democrats in both chambers of the state legislature, would raise the age for marriage to 18. A current loophole allows a judge to grant a marriage license to a minor no matter how young they are.

Advocates have cited “marriages” involving girls as young as ten years old in the state.

Legislators in Kentucky have also dragged their feet to outlaw child marriages in the past few weeks at the urging of the religious organization Kentucky Family Foundation. A vote on similar legislation to the Tennessee bill was delayed for the second time hours before legislators were expected to vote on it.

Former Republican state senator David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council, convinced House Majority Leader Glen Casada to send the bill to a summer “study committee” where it is expected to die.

Casada pointed to an email he got from Fowler detailing a legal strategy the group would use to attempt to undermine the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriages nationwide. Read more via LGBTQ Nation

Tennessee GOP reverses on child marriage ban bill, brings it back for debate

NASHVILLE — Republicans in Tennessee's House reversed last week's decision that effectively killed a bill to prevent child marriages in the state.

On Wednesday, the bill that called for Tennessee to outlaw marriages where one of the parties is younger than 18 was sent to summer study session, where bills are usually reviewed but do not often come back for a vote. 

House Majority Leader Glen Casada, a Republican from Franklin, Tenn., who sits on the House Civil Justice Subcommittee, made the motion Wednesday citing an email he received from former state Sen. David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee.

Fowler argued that passing state Rep. Darren Jernigan's bill could interfere with a lawsuit he is mounting to counter the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 decision to legalize gay marriage in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges.

But on Thursday, Casada said the bill, sponsored by Jernigan, a Democrat from Old Hickory, Tenn., would be brought back.

After media reports Thursday outlining a loophole in Tennessee law that gives judges discretion to grant marriage licenses with no minimum age limit, Casada said he conferred with Rep. Mike Carter, the subcommittee chair, and was "shocked."  Read more via USA Today