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American Marriage Ministries Files Lawsuit Against Tennessee Officials to Protect Religious Freedom

Published Tuesday, Jun. 18th, 2024

An image of the Lincoln memorial in the background, with a blue rectangle and title in front, which reads: Press release, American Marriage Ministries Lawsuit Against Tennessee Officials

Updated June 25, 2024, Seattle, WA – Foster Garvey has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the American Marriage Ministries (AMM), a Seattle-based non-profit organization, challenging the constitutionality of certain provisions of Tennessee law that restrict the rights of AMM ministers to officiate weddings. The lawsuit names Russell Johnson, District Attorney General for Morgan County; Cheryl Collins, County Clerk for Morgan County; Jennings H. Jones, District Attorney General for Rutherford County and Coty Wamp, District Attorney General for Hamilton County as defendants.


AMM, a non-denominational church that ordains ministers across the United States, believes that every couple has the constitutional right to choose who performs their wedding ceremony. The complaint alleges that Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-3-301, as amended by Tennessee 2019 Public Chapter 415, violates the constitutional rights of AMM, its ministers and persons who wish to have their marriages solemnized by AMM’s ministers. The plaintiffs are suing the defendants on eight counts, alleging violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution.


Ben Hodges, Foster Garvey attorney representing AMM, stated, "This case is about protecting the fundamental rights of individuals to make personal decisions about marriage and religion without undue interference from the state. By preventing AMM ministers from solemnizing marriages, Tennessee is violating the First Amendment rights of our clients and the couples they serve."


The lawsuit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to invalidate and enjoin the enforcement of the challenged provisions of Tennessee law. AMM's mission is to ensure that all people, regardless of their background or beliefs, have the right to marry and to choose who will officiate their marriage.


For press inquiries, contact:

Benjamin Hodges

206.447.6282 or [email protected]


Updated June 25, 2024:  We've had minsiters reach out to us wondering how this affects thir current wedding plans. We reccomend that you proceed as normal with your officiating. Our goal with this legal action is to clarify and lock in your existing rights. Please let us know if you receive any word from a county that they won’t authorize them to perform marriages or recognize any marriages. Please send correspondences [email protected].


To learn more about the history of this development, and AMM's effort to protect the rights of our ministers in Tennesee, please read the following articles:


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

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


  1. Tennessee Update: The fight to protect the rights of online-ordained ministers rolls on


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



  1. An Update from AMM on Tennessee's Anti-Online Ordination Law


  1. Here’s the Latest on What’s Happening with Tennessee’s Online Ordination Ban



  1. Tennessee and AMM: What Lies Ahead?



  1. Tennessee Federal Judge Sides with Online Churches



  1. Tennessee Order Suspending Online Ordination Law



  1. “No Thanks, I Don’t Want a Stranger!” Chattanooga TN Ordination Tour Update


  1. Crowds Grow at Memphis TN In-Person Ordination


  1. The Balkanization of Southern Christianity, Jackson TN


  1. Tennessee Ordination Tour Updates: Clarksville TN


  1. American Marriage Ministries Incorporated in Tennessee as a Non-Profit Corp.

  1. AMM to Provide In-Person Ordination in Tennessee for All Ministers affected by New Marriage Law


  1. AMM’s In-person Ordination Tour in Tennessee: A Look Back – and Forward


  1. An Open Letter to Members of the Tennessee Legislature



  1. Are you affected by the new Tennessee Marriage Law?



  1. Growing Outrage: A Minister Responds to Tennessee’s Restrictive Marriage Law


  1. New Tennessee Marriage Law is an Attack On Religious Freedom, and Rights Of Non-Traditional Ministers



Lewis King
Lewis King

Lewis is AMM's executive director. He also wears other hats at AMM, like taking out the recycling, restocking the sparkling water, and watering the office plants.

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