An attorney with a Franklin-based non-profit has a lot of people talking after a letter was sent to Tennessee clerks' offices. In it, the attorney claims same-sex marriages in the state aren't valid.

"The people of Tennessee made a law in their constitution that says any policy, law or judicial interpretation purporting to define marriage as anything other than a man and a woman is void and unenforceable," said attorney David Fowler of the Family Action Council of Tennessee. 

Fowler's letter reached the governor's office and all 95 county clerks' offices in the state. The letter claims clerks' offices are violating the state constitution right now by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 

"The Supreme Court opinions are not law," said Fowler. "They're actually called opinions. The basic constitutional principle is until a law is amended or repealed, that's the law."

Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project argued this in a statement; "This effort to invalidate people's marriages and prevent others from getting married seems cruel and without legal basis. The court has said that states cannot deny equal protection of the laws and so the county clerks in this state must make marriage licenses available to same-sex couples. We urge those opposed to the court's ruling to let people live their lives."

Fowler said there aren't many voices speaking on his side because of public pressure.

"By and large, I think legislators are afraid we'll get boycotted like North Carolina if we raise our voice and assert you need to obey the constitution," said Fowler.

He also said he believes this pressure has effected clerks.

"They realize, 'if I don't issue a license, I will get sued by a same-sex couple,'" said Fowler. "None of them want to get sued. None of them want their local tax payers to have to pay for that lawsuit. I understand why they're doing business as usual."

News4 also reached out to the office of Attorney General of Tennessee Herbert Slatery. A rep for the office referred to a statement from June 2015 after the Supreme Court decision. It said in part;

"The Court, nevertheless, has spoken and we respect its decision. Our office is prepared to work with the Governor and the General Assembly, as needed, to take the necessary steps to implement the decision.”

 

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Forrest Sanders is an award-winning reporter, videographer and editor at News4.

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