Stop Letting Public Servants Dictate Personal Relationships

Target: Bill Lee, Governor of Tennessee

Goal: Do not allow public officials to control marriage within the state.

During Black History Month, the state of Tennessee is attempting to take away one of the landmark wins of the Civil Rights Era. The 1960s Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia struck down laws enacted across the nation banning interracial marriage, which opened the door for couples to be treated equally regardless of their races. The same philosophy that powered this reform would later be used to affirm the right of same-sex couples to marry. Now, Tennessee and its governor want to roll back the clock with a law that would allow any officiant, even a public servant, to refuse to certify a marriage for any reason.

The vague law, recently signed by Governor Bill Lee, states that “a person shall not be required to solemnize a marriage.” Since Tennessee law currently mandates that a marriage must be “solemnized” by an officer or minister to be granted legal recognition, the state is deliberately putting an undue burden on certain couples. A government official who is supposed to serve every member of the public could theoretically refuse a marriage that is interracial, inter-faith, same-sex, or for any other reason that the official deems appropriate.

Sign the petition below to demand leaders repeal this step back for equality.


Dear Governor Lee,

“Public officials don’t get to assume public office and then pick and choose which members of the public to serve.” Truer words were never spoken than this statement by a legal advocacy group in regard to House Bill 878. Tennessee law already protects religious leaders from performing ceremonies to which they object, so this additional legal attack on equality was completely unnecessary. If an individual finds certain people or unions objectionable because of race, sexuality, faith, or for any other reason, then that individual should not accept government employment where routine interaction with the objectionable parties is part of the job.

The law will likely be deemed unconstitutional and non-legally binding, so save the public’s time and money and repeal this archaic and backwards dictate now.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Emma Bauso

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