NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has signed legislation requiring words in Tennessee law to be interpreted as having their "natural and ordinary meaning." Gay rights groups call it a sneaky way of denying same-sex couples the legal rights and protections granted to a "husband," a "wife," a "father" or "mother."
Haslam signed the bill on Thursday night, saying he believes the law will do nothing to change how state judges comply with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
“The natural and ordinary definition that’s part of that legislation is really what the state Supreme court and U.S. Supreme court has used those terms for years, actually for centuries," Haslam explained to reporters on Friday. "I’m not certain that we’ve plowed any new ground with the legislation that’s passed with this.”
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The Family Action Council campaigned for the law, saying it should prevent judges from defining husband or wife as the gender-neutral "spouse."
GLAAD Vice President Zeke Stokes said the law sets a "dangerous precedent" that could delegitimize LGBT couples and transgender people in Tennessee.