Tennessee Republicans want to strictly define ‘mother’ and ‘father’ based on ‘biology’
Republican lawmakers in Tennessee are introducing a bill which will seek to strictly define the terms ‘mother’ ‘father’ ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ in the state.
The bill claims it wishes to establish legal clarity on the terms, and to set out definitions based on ‘biology.’
The lawmakers in the Senate and House in Tennessee, Senator Janice Bowling and Representative John Ragan respectively, claim that the bill is necessary in order to streamline the court process for legally ambiguous words.
They say the four words should be legally “given their natural and ordinary meaning” based on “biological distinctions between women and men.”
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But LGBT groups have already said that the bills could be harmful to LGBT+ people.
Some have gone as far as to say that the bill aims to subvert the US Supreme Court ruling which legalised same-sex marriage.
The bill would affect the definitions of any law which contains any of those four words, and could have a wide-reaching impact on Tennessee residents.
Of judges attempting to ascertain the legal definition of the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’, with relation to same-sex couples, Senator Bowling says: “They’re trying to tortuously redefine everything.”
The bill was filed in response to a June ruling in Knox County which found that a woman did not have any legal rights as a parent after her wife gave birth to a child, as she did not fit the legal definition of ‘husband’.
The judge then ignored requests to read the law within the context of the US Supreme Court ruling in favour of same-sex marriage, but he said he must interpret the law as written.
“Rights are something that God gives you, the law can’t give you that,” Senator Bowling adds. “What this does is clearly define words. We are a nation of laws. Laws are made up of words and words have clear understanding — clear meaning.”
Chris Sanders, the executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, says: “For our community, it makes it clear they want to shut us out… The unintended consequences could be great because of the number of times the word comes up in the code.”