Judge says Tennessee marriage law has constitutional issues

Posted at 12:23 PM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 21:35:08-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge in Nashville says there are some "serious constitutional issues" with a new Tennessee law that prohibits ministers ordained online from solemnizing weddings.

The Washington-based Universal Life Church Monastery Storehouse and three Tennesseans ordained online by that church are suing to stop the law. They claim it violates the U.S. Constitution by favoring some religions over others.

The law was scheduled to go into effect on July 1, but U.S. District Judge Waverly Crenshaw put a hold on it late last month.

At a Wednesday hearing, Crenshaw questioned the state's argument that the law is needed to ensure the integrity of marriage. He ordered all parties to maintain the status quo and ordered a trial on the constitutional issues for later this year.

Other states have laws similar to Tennessee -- and the head of the Universal Life Church, George Freeman, says he's ready to take Tennessee's case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

"By the time we finish with this litigation, we hope we'll get a decision enforceable throughout the United States," Freeman said.