If the Supreme Court strikes down state marriage bans, we fully expect several days of joyful celebrations as couples go get married. We have not heard of any specific threats and we generally expect county clerk offices to be safe. In many cases, the Sheriff's Office is close by or there is security on site, as there is in Nashville.
Nevertheless, opponents of marriage equality have been escalating their rhetoric. Violence and other disturbances are still a possibility. The bomb threat against the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center took place just last month. We want you to be safe if you are going to get married or going to help once clerks start providing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Follow these steps:
1. Go together if you are getting married. You have to appear together at the clerk's office in most cases if you are getting married. If you are going as a marriage guardian, consider finding someone to accompany you.
2. Remember that protests are legal. Opponents are misguided, but they have the right to protest the Supreme Court decision. They do not have the right to touch/strike you, block your entrance to the county clerk's office, or threaten you. You may encounter protests. If you do, contact us after you get your marriage license at firstname.lastname@example.org .
3. If you are grabbed, blocked, or threatened, get to safety (which may include the inside of the clerk's office) and call 911, your Sheriff's Office (or Metro Police if you're in Nashville). Do not risk harm to yourself; return when it is safe if necessary. After you have contacted law enforcement, let us know at email@example.com or text 615-390-5252 and let us know your name, county, and situation.
4. Major Emergencies. If you hear gun shots or explosions, FLEE immediately. Call 911 or local law enforcement. After you get to safety and have contacted local law enforcement, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or text 615-390-5252 so that we can make others aware.
Once clerks begin providing licenses to same-sex couples, we believe in the vast majority of cases that everyone will be safe. No county government in this state wants violence on its property and we believe law enforcement and security will do everything in their power to make you safe. It is prudent to be aware and have a plan in case things become dangerous, though.