Monday, June 29, 2015

From our "Not Again?" Dept: TNGOP Drafts Bill to Save Us from Imaginary Threats (Crockett Buzz for 6-29-15)

Tennessee drafting 'Pastor Protection Act' after Supreme Court ruling

Obama to speak in Nashville area Wednesday about ACA

Supreme Court on right side of history

Prior to the start of oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court, The Tennessean Editorial Board opined that Tennessee's embrace of liberty should extend to same-sex marriage.
Citing the Tennessee Constitution's assertion that "all power is inherent in the people" (Article I, Section 1) and its strong affirmation of freedom to worship or not (Article I, Section 3), the main argument of that editorial was this: "In the vein of respecting a longstanding tradition of civil liberties, respect for but independence from religion, and freedom inherent in this state, it is in the interest of our state to allow our gay and lesbian citizens to get married."
Before Friday's high court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, 37 states allowed same-sex marriage. Tennessee was not among them.
In the 5-4 decision, Supreme Court justices came out on the right side of history on Friday.
The court majority opined that the 14th amendment required states to grant same-sex couples the right to marry and required them to recognize same-sex marriages in other states.
The court's argument focused on individual liberty, safeguarding families and equal protection. LINK

Tennessee drafting 'Pastor Protection Act' after Supreme Court ruling

A new bill in Tennessee seeks to "protect" churches and clergy from performing same-sex marriages. But is it necessary?
The move comes after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage on Friday. State Reps. Bryan Terry and Andy Holt anticipated the Supreme Court ruling and have been working on the bill for several months, reports Nashville's CBS affiliate.
Both representatives reject the validity of yesterday’s decision. “God is the ultimate Supreme Court and he has spoken. Marriage is between one man, and one woman," Representative Holt said in a press release.
The proposed law would reiterate protections already in place. As Representative Terry noted, “The First Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.” He also cited Article 1 Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution and said "personal freedom of religion is protected and no human authority can interfere in the rights of conscience.”
The nonpartisan Pew Research Center notes that "virtually everyone agrees that the First Amendment ... protects clergy from being required to officiate at marriages for same-sex couples and churches from being forced to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in their sanctuaries." Even the anti-gay Family Research Council notes that "churches and ministers have solid protection ... [T]here is no appreciable risk that clergy would be compelled by a court to host or perform a same-sex ceremony." LINK

Obama to speak in Nashville area Wednesday about ACA

President Barack Obama is set to speak about the Affordable Care Act in the Nashville area on Wednesday, making what will be his third swing through Middle Tennessee in the past year and a half.
According to a White House official, the president plans to "discuss how we can move forward and continue building on the progress made under the Affordable Care Act, which has helped more than 16 million Americans gain health insurance."
It is unclear whether Obama will speak in Nashville or in a nearby Middle Tennessee suburb or town. Further details, including a location, are expected in the coming days.
"I am so pleased that President Obama is coming back to Nashville, " U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, said in a statement. "It's always an honor to receive a President, and we are looking forward to showing him Southern hospitality on Wednesday."
The trip follows a 6-3 Supreme Court decision this past week in favor of the Obama administration in the battle over tax credit subsidies for health insurance as part of the controversial health care law. LINK

Sunday column: Maybe Forrest wouldn’t have minded a bust relocation

There were many historic curiosities and/or contradictions in last week’s rush by prominent Tennessee political figures to disavow official state ties to the Confederacy, echoing similar sentiments elsewhere following the massacre of black South Carolina churchgoers by a white racist who apparently embraced the Confederate flag as a symbol of his views.
In Tennessee, the Confederate flag is not incorporated into any official state stuff unless you include a specialty license plate for the Sons of Confederate Veterans. About 2,000 are currently issued at an extra annual fee of $35 each – one of more than a hundred specialty plates available in a longstanding revenue-raising scheme for arts programs and other charities, each approved by virtually unanimous legislative action.
There was a Washington Post blog citing a flag researcher’s view that Tennessee’s flag has “pragmatic unity with the Confederate flag” – but that seems a very big stretch.
At any rate, with no Confederate flag flying over our state capitol, as in South Carolina or Mississippi, the Tennessee Confederacy retreat has focused in substantial part on Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the most remarkable and controversial figures in state history. In particular, there’s been a a bust of Forrest since 1978 in our state capitol building, which was completed in 1859 and built largely with slave labor.
Forrest was a wealthy slave trader and plantation owner at that time. When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted as a private, then rose to the rank of lieutenant general commanding a cavalry unit directed with awesome military strategy and unquestioned personal courage. What was most questioned in his career was the massacre of black Union soldiers in an attack at Fort Pillow.
After the Civil War, Forrest helped start the Ku Klux Klan. Then he disavowed it after things got too violent. Then he did a more dramatic 180-degree turn on racial relations, notably appearing before a black group in 1875 and more or less repenting, as reported in biographer Jack Hurst’s book.
“We have but one flag, one country; let us stand together. We may differ in color, but not in sentiment,” Forrest said.
Today, we find Gov. Bill Haslam and state Republican Chairman Ryan Haynes calling for removal of Forrest’s bust from the state capitol, joining Democrats urging the same. Democrats, led by members of the Black Caucus, have done so occasionally in the past, but have left the matter lie dormant for years. LINK

Tennessee Governor Speaks On Gay Marriage Ruling

It was during this event that the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling on same sex marriages.
"Obviously the Supreme Court decision overturns a vote that the people of Tennessee had several years ago. That being said, we will fully comply with the law," Haslam said.

To fully comply with the law, means just that. Whether you agree or disagree, the law is the law, and when a couple wants to say “I do,” then that is that.

The governor knows all about that and all about that marriage stuff too.

"As a civil servant, I can perform marriages," Haslam said.

He can. But the question is will he, if a same sex couple asks him to do it.

"I've performed several marriages, always only with somebody I've known for a long time. That'll always be our policy. I don't just do marriages like a justice of the peace. Typically they've been friends of the family or of one of my children are some that I've married," Haslam said. 
We decided to pop the question to others.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell has officiated in a service where two folks wanted to tie the knot. When asked if he would perform the marriage of a same sex couple, he said he problably would.

"You know, I hadn't even thought about that. If it’s legal to do so, I probably would," Luttrell said.

"I don't marry just anybody. There has to be a particular reason. But I would not refuse to do so simply because they were the same sex," Wharton said.

There are going to need to be a lot of changes, according to the Governor. But again, he said the law is the law and all personal feelings of Tennessee state officials must be put aside.  LINK

Crockett Policy Institute

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