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

Published Tuesday, Apr. 6th, 2021

What’s new in the fight against Tennessee’s Anti-Online Ordination law, and how ministers and their couples can protect their rights.



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

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


As unbelievable as it seems, the two year anniversary of Tennessee’s discriminatory anti-ordination law (SB 1377 / HB 0213), and of our in-person ordination tour in Tennessee, is quickly approaching. 


Equally unbelievable is the fact that the case against the law has not yet been decided. As we’ve said before -- the wheels of justice turn slowly


In the meantime, many of you are wondering: 



Can AMM Ministers still perform marriage in Tennessee?


Yes, 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, allowing all online-ordained ministers to continue solemnizing marriages, remains in place until the case has been decided.



What about reports of online-ordained ministers being turned away at county offices? 


Unfortunately, there are reports of online-ordained officiants being turned away by county clerks, despite this being illegal.


We strongly recommend you download a copy of Judge Crenshaw’s order to suspend the new law, found here (click Download this PDF at the top of the page), before filing a marriage license or meeting with a county clerk, to avoid any difficulties.


If you’re an AMM Minister in Tennessee and a couple whose wedding you intend to solemnize is denied a marriage license: 


Please contact us immediately if this happens, and we will send you a letter from our lawyers stating your rights as recognized ministers, which you or your couple can provide to the clerk in question. Again, we also strongly recommend that they bring a copy of Judge Crenshaw’s order, which you can download here


Contact American Marriage Ministries:

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



AMM Ministers at American Marriage Ministries trip to Tennessee to offer in person ordination as a response to the TN anti-ordination law

Photo by Wyatt Massey of the Chattanooga Times Free Press



Online ordination is essential in the fight for marriage equality. 


LGBTQ+ and interracial couples continue to face frequent discrimination in Tennessee and across the country when applying for or filing marriage licenses, and when seeking ministers to marry them. 


Online ordination allows everyday heroes -- like you, and other open minded ministers and loving friends and family members -- to step up and honor the marriage rights of all couples.


We’d hoped to return to Tennessee sooner, following our visit in 2019, but the coronavirus quickly changed our plans. With a light at the end of the pandemic-tunnel, and the promise of safely travelling and gathering together again on the not-too-distant horizon, we look forward to more opportunities to connect with our ministers in person. 


We’ll continue to keep you updated on any developments in Tennessee. 


Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more information. 



How to Become a Marriage Officiant in Tennesse

( including info on weddings by city: Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville ) 












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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