Bill To Make Marrying Your First Cousin Illegal In Tennessee Passes

It’s 2024, and you can still marry your first cousin in Tennessee. Who knew?

Source: Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Republican-led Tennessee Legislature has overwhelmingly voted to send GOP Gov. Bill Lee a proposal that would ban marriage between first cousins.

The House cast a 75-2 vote Thursday on the bill after the Senate previously approved it without any opposition.

But a particularly vocal opponent, Republican Rep. Gino Bulso, took up most of the debate time, as he argued for an amendment to allow first-cousin marriages if the couple first seeks counseling from a genetic counselor.

In a previous committee hearing on the bill, Bulso lightheartedly shared a story about how his grandparents were first cousins who came to the U.S. from Italy in the 1920s, then traveled from Ohio to Tennessee to get married. He and other lawmakers laughed, and Bulso voted for the bill in that committee.

And then because he’s a right wing attention whore, Bulso brought up gay marriage for no apparent reason, other than he still hates gay marriage.

Then during Thursday’s floor debate, the socially conservative attorney argued that the risk of married cousins having a child with birth defects does not exist for gay couples. He contended there is no compelling government interest to ban same-sex cousins from getting married, saying that would run afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision.

He also couched his argument by saying that he thought the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage was “grievously wrong.” Bulso has supported legislation aimed at the LGBTQ community. That includes a bill he is sponsoring that would largely ban displaying pride flags in public school classrooms, which civil liberties advocates have contended runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution.

“The question is, is there a public health issue with a male marrying a male first cousin?” Bulso said. “And I think the answer is no.”

Ultimately, it passed 75-2 with only Bulso and some equally moronic Republican Monty Fritts voting against it. Bulso’s absurd amendment was easily defeated. This whole embarrassment was because of a 1960 attorney general’s opinion determined that an 1820s Tennessee law restricting some marriages among relatives does not prevent first cousins from marrying.

Some of Bulso’s nonsense.

And Democrat Antonio Parkinson’s reaction, who called it “ballsy,” standing up for the right to marry your first cousin, and that he couldn’t wait for the Saturday Night Live version.

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