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TN Update: Federal lawsuit to protect online-ordained ministers continues forward

Published Thursday, Dec. 30th, 2021

See what’s new in the fight against Tennessee’s anti-online ordination law as we head into 2022.  



We've added a new update since this article was published:

Good news for online-ordained ministers in Tennessee as ongoing lawsuit continues



Tennessee Minister Update: 


  • AMM Ministers can still conduct marriage rites in Tennessee.


  • The lawsuit challenging the state’s discriminatory anti-online ordination law continues to slowly forward, with AMM’s legal team monitoring the situation to ensure that our ministers’ interests are represented.


American Marriage Ministries remains engaged and supportive of the effort to protect the rights of online-ordained ministers in Tennessee. As we head into 2022, let’s take a quick look at what’s happening there. 


First, AMM Minister ordinations are still recognized in the state. The discriminatory law passed in 2019, which would ban internet-ordained ministers from conducting marriage rites, is still suspended by order of U.S. District Judge Crenshaw. 


This order will remain in place indefinitely, until a pending lawsuit challenging the validity of the law is finally decided by the court. The lawsuit was first filed in 2019, shortly after American Marriage Ministries held a multi-city ordination tour to ordain hundreds of ministers in-person and safeguard their rights as members of the clergy.


Most recently, additional arguments were made in court by the online church responsible for bringing the case (Universal Life Church Monastery Storehouse Inc.; also known as ULC or ULCM). 


Progress is slow but steady. As we head into the new year, our team continues to keep a watchful eye on any new developments.



Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for the most up-to-date news. 




Helpful Information for AMM Ministers in Tennessee


  • Online ordinations are still recognized in Tennessee, and AMM Ministers can still legally perform marriages in the state. 


The law is clear on this. Judge Crenshaw’s order to maintain the status quo allows all ministers ordained online to continue solemnizing marriages, and it remains in place until the case has been decided.


  • Download a copy of Judge Crenshaw’s order to avoid difficulties when filing a signed marriage license with the county clerk. 


Unfortunately, there are reports of online-ordained officiants being turned away by county clerks, despite this being illegal. Bring a copy of this order with you, just in case. 


A copy of the order can be found here
(Click Download this PDF at the top of the page.)


  • Contact AMM immediately if a clerk questions your rights as an AMM Minister.


We will send you a letter from our lawyers stating your rights as a recognized ordained minister, which you or your couple can provide to the clerk in question.


Contact American Marriage Ministries:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 206-395-9164
Office Hours: Monday - Friday | 10am - 5pm PST




Get ordained! 

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Tennessee

Friends and family members can officiate wedding ceremonies in Tennessee: Become an ordained minister with AMM's free online ordination -- it only takes a minute to complete.




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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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