The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of of New Hampshire and a class of 1969 Sewanee graduate, has entered a civil union with his partner of 20 years, Mark Andrew. Congratulations to them both!
“When your life is at stake, you learn that there are things in life that are much worse than death,” Robinson said on the Today show on Thursday. "That’s the great reward of being a Christian. Not living your life -- that’s worse than death. And if something were to happen to me, I would know that I am doing what I discern God is calling me to do.”
The civil ceremony performed by a justice of the peace was followed by a religious service of thanksgiving. Bishop Robinson has received many death threats prior to and since his consecration to the episcopate.
Would their union be recognized if he were in Tennessee visiting his alma mater and something happened to him or Mr. Andrew? Hard to say.
There was an attempt in the 104 General Assembly to make civil unions from other states void in Tennessee, but it was taken off notice in the House and Senate in 2005, the same year the marriage amendment passed the Legislature a second time before going to the ballot in 2006. Tennessee currently makes no provision for civil unions. I'm not aware of any court cases that have defined the matter for people visiting or relocating from out of state.