13 February 2017

To Avoid More Confusions, Mothers and Fathers Will Be Legally Defined

Mother and Father
Two Republican lawmakers in the U.S. are doing everyone a big favor by finally defining strictly what it means to be a mother, father, husband and wife in Tennessee.

They have filed a bill to establish legal clarity and define the terms based on biology, a move necessary to save the state money and time in courts where the words are legally ambiguous and subject to various interpretations by those who wants nothing more than free government-sponsored entitlements.

Legislation filed in both the state House and Senate say those four terms should be "given their natural and ordinary meaning" based on "biological distinctions between women and men," and come following a civil court case in Knoxville where gender roles in state law became an issue for two same-sex parents trying to determine child custody.

If the bill passes, the definition would apply any time those four words come up in Tennessee law. For example: Husband appears more than 50 times, according to a search performed by The Tennessean, in laws ranging from marriage and divorce to taxes and timeshares.

Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, said she filed the bill after the civil court case in Knoxville where a same-sex couple were trying to define parental rights of their child after filing for divorce. A similar bill in the Tennessee General Assembly died last year.

"They're trying to tortuously redefine everything," Bowling said, referring to judges trying to ascertain the definition of mother and father as it applies to same-sex couples.

In June, a judge in Knox County ruled that a woman, whose wife gave birth to a child via artificial insemination, did not have parental rights to the child because she did not meet the legal definition of a husband. When a lawyer argued the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 ruling allowing same-sex marriage changed those definitions, the judge said his hands were tied to interpret the law as-written.

Bowling said it's not uncommon for the legislature to pass bills that define specific terminology. She referenced previous legislation she's carried that called for "unstructured" recess for school-age children. She said the legislation had to define the term "unstructured" as it applied to that particular bill.

Bowling started receiving support and agreements almost as soon as the bill was filed.

"Rights are something that God gives you, the law can't give you that," Bowling said. "What this does is clearly define words. We are a nation of laws. Laws are made up of words and words have clear understanding — clear meaning."

Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, the bill's sponsor in the House, said the legislation simply codifies portions of a decision in a different 2000 court case.

"It's a separation of powers issue," he said, meaning the courts interpret laws and policy that are established by the legislature.