Tennessee Senate Votes To Protect Religious Freedom For Clergy

Image: Senator Mark Pody Image Credit: capitol.tn.gov

The Tennessee Conservative Staff –

A bill that protects religious freedom for Tennessee clergy members has passed a final vote in the full Senate.

On Tuesday, the Tennessee Senate moved to substitute Senate Bill 0596 (SB0596), sponsored by Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon-District 17), with the already passed House Bill 0878 (HB0878), sponsored by Representative Monty Fritts (R-Lebanon-District 32).

In his explanation of the bill, Senator Pody noted that the legislation simply added ten words to the already existing code by stating “that a person is not required to solemnize a marriage” if the person objects to doing so based on religious beliefs or conscience.

This protection would extend to both religious leaders and civil servants who held an objection to a marriage. 

With no discussion on the bill, a vote was taken, and the bill passed with 27 ayes and 5 nays. 

All Republican Senators voted in favor of the bill.

Voting against the bill were Senators Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville-District 20), Sara Kyle (D-Memphis-District 30), London Lamar (D-Memphis-District 33), Charlane Oliver (D-Nashville-District 19), and Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville-District 21).

The legislation passed the House in March 2023 but the Senate bill was deferred in the Judiciary Committee until January 23, 2024. 

After receiving the signatures of the House and Senate speakers, the bill will be sent to Governor Lee for action. If signed, the new law will go into effect immediately.

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