cloudy
Monday December 18th, 2017 3:43AM
10:52PM ( 4 hours ago ) Weather Alert

By Tennessee law, words have 'natural and ordinary' meanings

By The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has signed legislation requiring words in Tennessee law to be interpreted as having their "natural and ordinary meaning." Gay rights groups called it a sneaky way of denying same-sex couples the legal rights and protections granted to a "husband," a "wife," a "father" or "mother."

No other state has a similar law, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates nationally for LGBT rights.

Haslam declared when he signed the bill on Friday that the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage is the law of the land, and this legislation does nothing to change that.

But the Family Action Council, which describes itself as defending conservative Christian values, made it clear while campaigning for the law that its purpose is to prevent judges from defining references to husband or wife, which appear throughout the Tennessee Code, as the gender-neutral "spouse."

Haslam sets a dangerous precedent by signing the law, which could delegitimize LGBT couples and transgender people in the state of Tennessee, said Zeke Stokes, vice president of programs for GLAAD.

"By the stroke of a pen, Gov. Haslam has now placed the future of the state's economy and the well-being of the LGBTQ community in jeopardy," Stokes' statement said. "(The law) has the potential to undermine marriages between LGBTQ couples, nullify a transgender person's true identity under law, and put LGBTQ families at risk."

Nearly every elected Republican voted in favor, and nearly every Democrat against the measure. The influential Music Business Association, tweeting that it "values inclusion & celebrates diversity," urged a veto.

The law addresses questions raised in a child custody dispute between a divorcing lesbian couple in Knoxville. The Family Action Council tried to intervene in the case on behalf of 53 state lawmakers, and was told by the judge they had no right to get involved.

The Knox County judge ruled that because she did not meet the legal definition of "husband," the non-biological mother had no parental rights to their child born through artificial insemination.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. John Stevens of Huntingdon, said he has "no idea" if it could infringe on the marriage and family rights of same-sex couples. He said he simply wants undefined words to mean what they meant at the time lawmakers put them into the law.

The governor also described the law in the most innocuous terms.

"The language of this bill is for a general definitions section of the Tennessee code, which defines 'road' and 'sheriff,' among other common terms. For at least 150 years, courts including the Tennessee Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court have looked to a word's natural and ordinary meaning when deciding cases."

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Slaying of camp workers on California beach may be solved
The shocking slayings of two young Bible-camp workers found shot in the head on a Northern California beach more than a decade ago may finally be solved
5:28PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Fraternity, 18 members charged in Penn State student's death
A now-shuttered Penn State fraternity and 18 of its members are facing criminal charges in the death of a pledge who was injured in a fall during an alcohol-fueled party
5:24PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Puerto Rico to close 179 public schools amid crisis
Puerto Rico is closing 179 public schools in a move expected to save millions of dollars amid a deep economic crisis that has sparked an exodus to the U.S. mainland in the past decade
5:23PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Strawberry scientist is sued over the fruits of his research
A renowned plant scientist credited with developing tastier strawberries is in a jam with his former employer
5:07PM ( 32 minutes ago )
As bitter French campaign ends, candidates get in last shots
Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says she believes she can pull off a surprise victory in France's high-stakes runoff election Sunday, while independent front-runner Emmanuel Macron accused her of exploiting voter fears
5:06PM ( 34 minutes ago )
Clarence Thomas: Sen. Danforth is 'the reason why I'm here'
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has reunited in St. Louis with his mentor and the man who stood beside him through a difficult confirmation hearing, telling former Sen. John Danforth he owes him his career
4:50PM ( 50 minutes ago )
AP National News
Bumps ahead for 'Obamacare' repeal as Americans air worries
The Republicans' health care victory in Congress may prove fleeting
4:16PM ( 1 hour ago )
Police: Car driver ran red light in Vegas school bus crash
Authorities in Las Vegas say a 70-year-old passenger car driver ran a red light that caused a school bus crash that injured 15 children
3:14PM ( 2 hours ago )
Prison: Aaron Hernandez elated about acquittal, not suicidal
A Massachusetts prisons report says Aaron Hernandez was excited about his acquittal in a 2012 double slaying and did not appear to have thoughts of suicide in the days before he killed himself in his cell
3:02PM ( 2 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
The Latest: Health care bill meets GOP skeptics in Senate
Senate Republicans are wasting no time showing they have little use for the House bill to repeal and replace Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act
5:05PM ( 34 minutes ago )
Wisconsin-based atheist group sues Trump over church order
A Wisconsin-based atheist group has filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to strike down President Donald Trump's order aimed at easing an IRS rule limiting religious organizations' political activity
3:17PM ( 2 hours ago )
Senate asks Trump associates for details on Russian contacts
A Senate committee investigating Moscow's interference in last year's election has asked at least 4 of President Donald Trump's associates to turn over information about possible contacts with Russian officials or businessmen
3:02PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Trump signs spending measure keeping gov't open
Trump signs $1 trillion spending bill to keep government open through September
2:14PM ( 3 hours ago )
Senate asks Page for documents on his contacts with Russia
One of President Donald Trump's former foreign policy advisers says a Senate committee investigating Moscow's interference in the election wants him to turn over information about contacts he or any other campaign associate had with Russians
1:15PM ( 4 hours ago )
Senator cites fee she says FBI paid for hacking tool
A senior U.S. senator says the FBI paid $900,000 to break into an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters
12:02PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Slaying of camp workers on California beach may be solved
The shocking slayings of two young Bible-camp workers found shot in the head on a Northern California beach more than a decade ago may finally be solved
5:28PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Fraternity, 18 members charged in Penn State student's death
A now-shuttered Penn State fraternity and 18 of its members are facing criminal charges in the death of a pledge who was injured in a fall during an alcohol-fueled party
5:24PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Puerto Rico to close 179 public schools amid crisis
Puerto Rico is closing 179 public schools in a move expected to save millions of dollars amid a deep economic crisis that has sparked an exodus to the U.S. mainland in the past decade
5:23PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Punching in past 65: Older-worker rate highest since 1962
A full 19 percent of Americans age 65 and over were still working last month, the highest level since 1962, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
5:20PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Prosecution of Oklahoma pipe shop leaves residents perplexed
The Republican district attorney in the college down of Norman, Oklahoma, is pursuing criminal charges against a local shop owner and his clerks for selling glass pipes
5:19PM ( 20 minutes ago )