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Tennessee ‘natural meaning’ law raises fears in LGBT community

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Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam on Friday enacted a bill that critics say is an underhanded way of denying rights to same-sex couples by insisting on the “natural and ordinary meaning” of words in state statues.

The legislation, which was signed by the Republican governor despite pressure from civil liberty and gay-rights groups, requires words in Tennessee law be interpreted with their “natural and ordinary meaning, without forced or subtle construction that would limit or extend the meaning of the language.” It did not explain, however, what that means.

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Civil rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocates warned the law is meant to undermine the rights of same-sex couples in any statutes that include words like “husband,” “wife,” “mother” or “father.”

Neither of the two sponsoring lawmakers, Republican state Senator John Stevens and Republican state Representative Andrew Farmer, could be reached to comment.

However, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported Stevens said he proposed the measure partly to compel courts to side more closely with the dissenting opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges which legalized same-sex marriage.

Haslam said on Friday he believes the law will not change how courts interpret legal precedent.

“While I understand the concerns raised about this bill, the Obergefell decision is the law of the land, and this legislation does not change a principle relied upon by the courts for more than a century, mitigating the substantive impact of this legislation,” he said in a statement.

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The Tennessee measure is one of more than 100 bills introduced in U.S. state legislatures this year that to curtail LGBT rights, said Cathryn Oakley, senior legislative counsel for the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign.

While public opinion polls and court rulings have shifted in favor of same-sex rights in recent years, there is ongoing pushback from the 2015 ruling, Oakley said.

Last month, a Kentucky family court judge made headlines by issuing an order stating he would not hear adoption cases involving same-sex couples due to personal objections. That echoed Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis’ 2015 refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses because it violated her religious beliefs.

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Gay-rights groups previously warned the law could create an economic backlash against Tennessee similar to that suffered by North Carolina, where a law requiring students use the restroom of the gender on their birth certificates led sports organizations and musicians to cancel events.

(Reporting by Chris Kenning in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Here’s why Ukrainians are shocked about Rudy Giuliani’s new associate

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President Donald Trump's personal attorney is causing "shock" among Ukrainians for working with Andrey Artemenko, according to new reports.

"In an attempt to exonerate President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani has been working with right-wing media outlet One America News Network (OAN) to produce a television special featuring a string of current and former Ukrainian officials defending Trump’s conduct in withholding military aid to Ukraine and seeking investigations of the Bidens," Law & Crime reported Saturday.

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‘Irony and Outrage’: How different — and how similar — are Samantha Bee and Fox News?

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Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly are masters of outrage — not just the emotion, but a genre of political theater — just as Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are masters of ironic satire. They’re poles apart, and yet — ironically or outrageously — they’re profoundly similar, both in how they’re impacting their audiences, and why their genres emerged when they did. That’s perhaps the central thesis of “Irony and Outrage: The Polarized Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laughter in the United States,” by Dannagal Goldthwaite Young, who’s both a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Delaware and an improv comedian with the troupe ComedySportz Philadelphia. That’s among the many different hats she wears.

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WATCH: Video surfaces of Eric Trump in Ukraine

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Video surfaced on Saturday of one of President Donald Trump's children in Kyiv as Congress and federal prosecutors examine the family's dealings in Ukraine and Russia.

On Friday, Democratic strategist Scott Dworkin released a still photo of Eric Trump reportedly in Ukraine.

On Saturday's Dworkin's Democratic Coalition released video of the event.

Watch:

https://twitter.com/TheDemCoalition/status/1203457171352145921

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