By Skip Cauthorn, email@example.com April 15, 2005
Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Jeff Miller, the sponsor of Tennessee’s Marriage Protection act, is facing divorce because of his alleged relationship with a Senate aide, his wife said.
Miller (R-Cleveland) has been the chief sponsor of the Marriage Protection Amendment, which passed the Senate in February mere days prior to the divorce filing.
Brigitte Miller, Sen. Miller’s wife of 15 years, said he is having an affair with a legislative researcher and that he and the young lady accompanied the Millers’ three daughters to a November Martina McBride concert in Nashville.
“They’ve been seeing each other for a while,” Mrs. Miller told a Capitol Hill reporter. “Now he admits things. But he said it’s only been since he moved out. But I know better. I’ve got things that tell me differently.”
Sen. Miller said at the time of the concert the aide was a “friend,” Mrs. Miller said.
A court date has not been set in Bradley County Circuit Court. Sen. Miller, who is representing himself in the proceedings, filed a countercomplaint with the court March 23. The countercomplaint said the February claim of “inappropriate marital conduct” is without merit.
Miller didn’t return calls to his legislative office Thursday afternoon but issued the following statement:
“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 Marriage Protection Amendment, which passed the Senate floor Feb. 23, would place a ban on gay marriage in the state constitution. The amendment, which says marriage should be defined as between “one man and one woman,” will go before the voters in a November referendum next year.
Miller described the measure last year, in the first of two passages needed for a constitutional amendment, as a means of preserving the sanctity of marriage.
In addition, while pushing the marriage act through the Senate last year, Miller openly opposed an amendment sponsored by state Sen. Steve Cohen that would have included an “adultery clause.”
Cohen’s amendment, which failed, stated: “Adultery is deemed to be a threat to the institution of marriage and contrary to public policy in Tennessee.”
Prior to the passage of the amendment last year The City Paper learned Miller’s brother and Nashville resident Gregg Miller was openly gay.
Gregg Miller said at the time he was surprised to learn Sen. Miller was pushing the initiative.
“It’s not going to hurt my relationship with [my brother]. He’s a grown man and I love him and my whole family loves him and we love each other,” Sen. Miller said of his sibling. “We support each other whenever we feel like the other person is in the right. But, if the other person is not acting appropriately according to the belief systems that we all have, then we still love each other but we disagree.”
Mrs. Miller said she has suspected the senator to have had extramarital affairs in the past.
“I think he’s played around for a long time. … It’s not any more wrong to be gay than to commit adultery,” she said.