NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Senate has passed legislation requiring use of the “natural and ordinary meaning” of undefined words in state law, which LGBT advocates fear could spur discrimination against same-sex couples and transgender people.
Senators passed the bill 23-6 Thursday. The House passed it last month.
It heads to Gov. Bill Haslam, whose office says he’s deferred to the legislature’s will on it.
Republican Sen. John Stevens of Huntingdon said his bill isn’t aimed at LBGT people and only codifies longstanding judicial rule of interpretation.
In an opinion, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said the legislation could conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling and state law about interpreting gender-specific words as inclusive.
The opinion says a judge would likely use gender-inclusive interpretations of words like “husband,” `’wife,” `’father” and “mother.”