ACLU on Civil Rights
The League of Women Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union had supported this cause (HB 611).
One obstacle is the state's LGBTQ community and its allies, who banded together in 2017 to prevent the bill's passage. "Tennesseans who are in committed same-sex relationships simply want to be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else," the executive director of the ACLU in Tennessee, said. "A handful of state legislators cannot nullify the law of the land and drive our state backward simply because they wish to discriminate. The ACLU of Tennessee, along with many partners, will be working hard to defeat this narrow-minded, blatantly unconstitutional legislation."
Claiming a right to discriminate in the name of religion is not new. In the 1960s, we saw objections to laws requiring integration in restaurants because of sincerely held beliefs that God wanted the races to be separate. We saw religiously affiliated universities refuse to admit students who engaged in interracial dating. In those cases, we recognized that requiring integration was not about violating religious liberty; it was about ensuring fairness. It's no different today.
Religious freedom in America means that we all have a right to our religious beliefs, but this does not give us the right to use our religion to impose those beliefs on others.
The judge said that while he agreed with Utah that marriage has traditionally been left to regulation by the states: "The issue the court must address in this case is not who should define marriage, but the narrow question of whether Utah's current definition of marriage is permissible under the Constitution."
The ACLU of Utah filed an amicus brief in the case and legal director John Mejia said the organization was "thrilled" by the decision. "We think that it was a discriminatory law that only served to deny loving and committed couples the protection and dignity of marriage," he said
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