Tennessee State Senator Jeff Miller’s advocacy for the sanctity of marriage rings hollow as his wife of 15 years sues him for divorce, citing behavior that suggests Miller may be guilty of extramarital philandering. Bridgett Suzanne Miller filed divorce papers in Bradley County Circuit Court on February 25 and is accusing her husband of “inappropriate marital conduct.”
According to reports from the “Chattanooga Times Free Press” and several other news sources, including an “Associated Press” report in “The Tennessean”, Mrs. Miller, who lives and works in Cleveland , accuses her husband of involvement with a Nashville legislative research assistant who accompanied Miller and his three daughters to a Martina McBride concert last November.
”He is very hypocritical, fighting for the sanctity of marriage and not keeping his own,” Mrs. Miller asserted.
Miller has filed a countersuit against his wife in which he maintains that her allegations regarding “inappropriate marital conduct” are without merit.
A statement issued from Miller’s office outlines his response: “My wife and I are in the process of getting a divorce. Divorce is a very difficult time for everyone. It is a very private matter, which is played out in public proceedings. Our chief concern right now is the best interest of our children,” the statement said. “It became apparent over the last week or so that we have irreconcilable differences which we have been unable to resolve.”
The 42-year-old legislator is acting as his own attorney in the divorce.
”The Bradley County Weekly” claims Miller’s extramarital activities were well known for years in Nashville and that the media from both Cleveland and Nashville were complicit in keeping Miller’s alleged infidelity quiet.
Miller (R-Cleveland), is the sponsor of Tennessee ’s Marriage Protection Amendment. If it becomes law, this amendment to the Tennessee State Constitution will ban marriage equality and prevent recognition of same-sex marriages solemnized in other states where they are legal.
Miller was also the sponsor of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that codified the definition of marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman. Subsequently, marriage equality has been illegal since that law passed. The amendment to the State Constitution is designed by its supporters to prevent the overturning of that law in the future.
“It is not clear how these allegations will affect the ballot initiative. Equality advocates should not count on this scandal slowing down the amendment’s momentum. The matter is now in the hands of the people of Tennessee and not the General Assembly,” stated Chris Sanders, spokesperson for the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP).
The bill proposing the amendment was approved by the 103 Tennessee General Assembly and will go to the voters in 2006. This ballot initiative has been challenged by the Tennessee ACLU in a lawsuit filed on April 21.