Governor Bill Haslam has signed a controversial piece of legislation that LGBT groups say is targeting their rights.
The bill HB1111, also known as the “natural meaning” bill, states that undefined words should be defined by their natural definition.
Originally, the bill included specific words such as “mother” and “father,” but that language was pulled from the legislation which passed through the House last week.
LGBT groups said that if applied in court, the legislation could prove to be devastating for same sex couples and families.
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After signing the bill Friday, Haslam released the following statement in part:
“I have reviewed the final language of HB 1111/SB 1085 and assessed the legislation’s potential impact and concerns. 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.
In reviewing this bill, I do not believe the legislation accomplishes anything that isn’t already relied upon by the courts, even after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision in 2015. And if a potential conflict did arise, the Tennessee Attorney General has opined that a court could resolve it through other statutory interpretation rules.”
However, Zeke Stokes, Vice President of Programs for GLAAD, said by signing the legislation, Haslam “has now placed the future of the state’s economy and the well-being of the LGBTQ community in jeopardy.”