The controversial ‘same-sex marriage’ resolution, currently making its way in similar form throughout much of the state, was given the nod last week by the Claiborne County Commission. The county put its stamp on the assertion that, legally, marriage can be bestowed only on those couples who are made up of one man and one woman.
Greeneville attorney Jeff Cobble gave a lengthy background explanation about the proposed resolution. Cobble said he is representing the Patriots’ Brigade, a statewide grassroots organization that has been successful in getting similar resolutions adopted in all but one county in eastern Tennessee.
“This is a matter of whether we retain a republican form of government – federalism, as it’s called – or, whether we are simply subjects of the United States’ government.
“The short answer, by the way, as to why this resolution is appropriate is, the federal government has no jurisdiction over the subject of marriage,” said Cobble, adding that, as ‘free and independent states,’ Tennessee has the Constitutional right to make up its own mind on several subjects including marriage.
Cobble outlined several federal and state statutes and the corresponding cases that strictly prohibit the U.S. Supreme Court from handing down verdicts like the one made in 2015 in the controversial Obergefell v. Hodges case, which effectively opened the ‘can of worms’ as a precedent for legalizing same-sex marriage.
“…five justices of the United States Supreme Court issued a lawless opinion with no basis in American law or history, purporting to overturn natural marriage and find a “right” to same sex “marriage” in the United States Constitution and the fourteenth amendment… the Obergefell opinion ‘is a naked judicial claim to legislative – indeed, super-legislative-power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government,’” reads the adopted Claiborne County resolution, in part.
Cobble cited a U. S. Supreme Court case from 2013 having to do with a ‘legally’ married lesbian couple in New York. The case centered on whether the surviving member of the couple owed inheritance taxes after the death of the other one.
Cobble questioned the apparent inconsistency of the five-to-four decision by the Supreme Court to hand the case back to New York state to decide, despite the enactment in 1996 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), establishing a federal definition of marriage to be only between one man and one woman.
The U. S. Congress, Cobble says, has the legal right to mandate those cases that can be heard at the Supreme Court level. Congress also has the power of impeachment, if the U. S. Supreme Court oversteps its authority, he said.
According to Cobble, 81.6 percent of Tennessee voters believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.
The Claiborne County version of the resolution requests that the Tennessee General Assembly and Governor Bill Haslam uphold prior state legislation deeming marriage to be solely between a man and a woman.
The resolution, sponsored locally by commissioner Dennis Estes, also pledges “legal and political assistance to anyone who refuses to follow” the ruling for constitutionally protected reasons. The document appeals to the U. S. Congress to “correct the Supreme Court’s usurpation of power.”
Prior to discussion of the resolution, commissioner Whitt Shuford requested that the matter be tabled until such time that the board could review several pages of additional information handed to them moments before the beginning of the meeting.
Commissioner Charlton Vass seconded the motion.
However, the motion failed by a vote of 15 to five. Commissioners Shuford, Vass, Juanita Honeycutt, Bill Keck and Shawn Peters voted to table the matter.
The 40 plus minutes Cobble spent in detailing the resolution was followed by its adoption. The commission voted 17 to three in favor of its passage. Shuford, Vass and Peters voted against the measure.
Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @scribeCP.