Tennessee Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Amendment 1 (2006)
Marriage and Family
|Not on ballot|
Its successful passage meant that the Tennessee Constitution was altered so as to define marriage as a contract between one man and one woman. The ballot measure was legislatively referred to the ballot by the Tennessee State Legislature. The successful ballot proposition added a new Section 18 to Article XI of the Tennessee Constitution which says, "The historical institution and legal contract solemnizing the relationship of one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be the only legally recognized marital contract in this state. Any policy or law or judicial interpretation, purporting to define marriage as anything other than the historical institution and legal contract between one (1) man and one (1) woman, is contrary to the public policy of this state and shall be void and unenforceable in Tennessee. If another state or foreign jurisdiction issues a license for persons to marry and if such marriage is prohibited in this state by the provisions of this section, then the marriage shall be void and unenforceable in this state."
|Tennessee Amendment 1 (2006)|
Text of measure
The language that appeared on the ballot:
Constitution Amendment #1
Shall Article XI of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee be amended by adding the following language as a new, appropriately designated section:
SECTION___. The historical institution and legal contract solemnizing the relationship of one man and one woman shall be the only legally recognized marital contract in this state. Any policy or law or judicial interpretation, purporting to define marriage as anything other than the historical institution and legal contract between one man and one woman, is contrary to the public policy of this state and shall be void and unenforceable in Tennessee. If another state or foreign jurisdiction issues a license for persons to marry and if such marriage is prohibited in this state by the provisions of this section, then the marriage shall be void and unenforceable in this state.
Amendment 1 added a section to Article XI of the Tennessee Constitution.
Introduction and approval
In order for an amendment to the Tennessee State Constitution to be fully ratified, it must be approved by both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly for two successive legislative sessions. It is then put on the ballot as a referendum in the next gubernatorial election, where it must be approved by an absolute majority of those voting in the election.
The amendment was first proposed in the Tennessee House of Representatives on March 17, 2004, as House Joint Resolution 990 (HJR 990). The House of Representatives approved HJR 990 on May 6, 2004, by a vote of eighty-five to five. The measure received Senate approval on May 19, 2004, by a vote of twenty-eight to one. After the 2004 election, the amendment was introduced in the Tennessee State Senate as Senate Joint Resolution 31 (SJR 31). The Senate approved the measure on February 28, 2005, by a vote of twenty-nine to two, and the House of Representatives approved the measure on March 17, 2005, by a vote of eighty-eight to seven. The amendment was then slated to be submitted to voters as a referendum during the 2006 gubernatorial election.
On April 21, 2005, a lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the Tennessee Equality Project, and other plaintiffs, claiming that the amendment had not been published in a timely manner between legislative sessions as the state constitution required; specifically, that its newspaper publication had occurred only four months prior to the legislative election in November 2004 rather than the required six. This suit was dismissed at the appellate court level in March 2006 on the grounds that the legislature's intent to put the amendment before voters in November 2006 was widely reported in the media, meeting this requirement in spirit if not in letter. This decision was in turn appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court. The Tennessee Supreme Court rejected the ACLU's case in July 2006, stating that the plaintiffs did not show adequate standing to bring the lawsuit, thereby clearing the way for the amendment to appear on the November ballot.
Polls conducted prior to the election showed widespread support for the amendment. According to a Mason-Dixon poll released one month before the election, seventy-three percent of registered Tennessee voters supported the amendment, twenty percent opposed it, and seven percent were undecided. As expected, the amendment passed by a large margin. Eighty-one percent of voters approved the amendment and nineteen percent opposed it. As of November 2006, twenty-six other U.S. states have also passed defense of marriage amendments.
Voters in 30 states have approved legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or initiated constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriages at the ballot box. The first constitutional prohibition was in 1998, and the latest one occurred in May 2012. Most of these amendments define marriage along the lines of a "union of one male and one female."
The following constitutional bans were approved by voters, but later overturned by courts:
- Alaska Marriage Amendment, Measure 2 (1998)
- Nevada Marriage Amendment, Question 2 (2002)
- Montana Marriage Verification, Measure CI-96 (2004)
- Oklahoma Marriage Question 711 (2004)
- Oregon Marriage Measure 36 (2004)
- Utah Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Amendment 3 (2004)
- Kansas Marriage Amendment (2005)
- Alabama Sanctity of Marriage, Constitutional Amendment 774 (June 2006)
- Colorado Definition of Marriage, Initiative 43 (2006)
- Idaho Marriage Definition, HJR 2 (2006)
- South Carolina Amendment 1, the Marriage Act (2006)
- Virginia Question 1, Marriage Amendment (2006)
- Wisconsin Marriage Amendment, Question 1 (2006)
- Arizona Marriage Protection, Proposition 102 (2008)
- California Proposition 8, the "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry" Initiative (2008)
- Florida Definition of Marriage, Amendment 2 (2008)
- North Carolina Same-Sex Marriage, Amendment 1 (May 2012)
Cases overturning the following bans have been appealed to higher courts and are currently stayed:
- Nebraska Marriage Definition Amendment, Initiative 416 (2000)
- Missouri Marriage Definition, Amendment 2 (August 2004)
- Note: Same-sex marriage is legal in St. Louis County and the state recognizes same-sex marriages.
- Mississippi Marriage Definition, Amendment 1 (2004)
- Arkansas Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Proposed Constitutional Amendment 3 (2004)
- South Dakota Marriage Amendment (2006)
- Texas Definition of Marriage Act, Proposition 2 (2005)
The following constitutional bans were approved by voters and have been upheld or not overturned by courts:
- Louisiana Marriage Amendment, Question 1 (September 2004)
- Georgia Marriage Amendment, Question 1 (2004)
- Kentucky Marriage Amendment (2004)
- Michigan Marriage Amendment, Proposal 2 (2004)
- North Dakota Definition of Marriage, Constitutional Measure 1 (2004)
- Ohio Issue 1, the Marriage Amendment (2004)
- Tennessee Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Amendment 1 (2006)
The following constitutional bans were defeated by voters:
- Note: Arizonans defeated a measure in 2006, but approved one in 2008, which has been overturned.
- Vote No on 1 - Tennessee Equality Project's official site opposing the amendment
- RealMarriage.org - Website supporting the amendment
- TNMarriage.org - Tennessee Baptist Convention web pages supporting the amendment
- The Money Behind the 2006 Marriage Amendments -- National Institute on Money in State Politics
- Election Results by County, Constitutional Amendments
- American Civil Liberties Union, et al. v. Riley Darnell, et al.
- Hearing Held in ACLU-TN Challenge to Proposed Constitutional Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage
- Bredesen builds robust lead over Bryson, Ban on same-sex unions gets firm support, by Richard Locker, The Commercial Appeal, October 3, 2006
- Tennessee 2006 election results
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