State Rep. Asks County Clerks To Ignore Supreme Court Ruling On Gay Marriage

Tennessee State Rep. Rick Womick (Website)

Nashville, TN (WSMV) -- A Tennessee lawmaker has sent a letter to all 95 county clerks in Tennessee urging them to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

State Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, said the governor and attorney general are intimidating county clerks to issue the licenses.

In the letter, Womick told county clerks the Supreme Court is redefining a legally recognized marital contract in Tennessee, making it void and unenforceable in the state. He also said they should ignore the Supreme Court's decision.

"We are going to redefine marriage as this. They don't have the power. Only Congress and state legislators have that power to create law," Womick said. "These clerks, by ignoring the opinion, will be in violation of no federal law. All they're in violation of is the opinion of individuals in black robes."

Womick said he believes Gov. Bill Haslam and the state attorney general are bullying county clerks.

"Instead, he took it upon himself to intimidate our county clerks," Womick said. "Within minutes after the opinion, the AG started calling the clerks' offices telling them they need to honor the court's opinion."

"The courts ruled. He needs to let it go," said Chris Sanders with the Tennessee Equality Project.

Sanders said what Womick is asking the clerks to do is irresponsible and it could be costly to a clerk who decides to ignore the Supreme Court.

"There is no chance a county clerk is going to win if this goes to court," he said. "They will lose and they will be liable for those legal fees."

But Womick is adamant the high court overstepped its legal bound.

"We will not be controlled by an oligarchy of five individuals in black robes," he said. "If you really have a problem with that, you five justices, then come down to Tennessee and try to enforce your ruling."

"He really needs to let it go," Sanders said. "There are a lot of issues requiring action in this state. It's a huge distraction."

Channel 4 contacted the governor's office for a comment on Womick's letter. They had not responded by deadline.

Womick sent the letter out by mail last Wednesday. So far, he has not received a response from any clerks indicating they would ignore the Supreme Court's ruling.


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