AG: Bill could conflict with gay marriage ruling, state law

Apr 21, 2017

AG Herbert Slattery III

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A state attorney general opinion says legislation requiring use of the "natural and ordinary meaning" of undefined words in Tennessee code could, in some cases, conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling and state law about interpreting gender-specific words as inclusive.

However, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery's opinion says a judge wouldn't necessarily use literal meanings of gender-specific words, including "husband," ''wife," ''father" and "mother."

It says a judge would likely side with state law requiring gender-inclusive interpretations, unless lawmakers made the bill clear that they wanted gender-specific interpretations.

Chris Sanders of Tennessee Equality Project said the bill could create judicial confusion, or a judge could use it to temporarily deny LGBT rights.

The Senate could vote on the bill next week. The House passed it last month.