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Tennessee GOP Pushing Orwellian Gay Segregation Bill

by David Badash on February 14, 2014

in Bigotry Watch,News,Politics,Religion

Post image for Tennessee GOP Pushing Orwellian Gay Segregation Bill

Apparently, the latest craze in state legislatures are bills that supposedly prevent discrimination and breed tolerance of others’ views — by boldly and unconstitutionally discriminating against gay people. In short, states are now trying to print licenses to discriminate. Piers Morgan recently described one state’s bill as gay apartheid.

Yesterday, we told you about a Kansas bill that’s already passed the House and is on its way to the Republican-controlled Senate, and the Sunflower State’s virulently anti-gay Republican governor. That bill, clearly an example of anti-gay segregation, would allow anyone to refuse service of any kind to anyone else if they felt serving that person would somehow violate their religious beliefs. To grasp the enormity of this legislation, you should know the bill would allow everyone, from your doctor to your gardner to your children’s teachers to refuse to do perform their job for you. If you’re gay in Kansas, and you want a loan, a latte, or a lift to the train, you could be outta luck.

And two days ago, we reported on an Idaho Republican’s bill that would similarly “protect” the licenses of everyone, from doctors, nurses, and midwives, to athlete agents, cosmetologists, morticians, and social workers – anyone licensed by the state — from losing their occupational license if they refuse to do their job in service to a gay person, if doing so violates their religious beliefs.

Today, let’s talk about a far-reaching, drastic segregationist bill in the great state of Tennessee.

The text of Senate Bill 2566 (PDF) reads like a George Orwell novel.

The bill states that “protecting the free exercise of religion is a government interest of the highest order,” and “laws that protect the free exercise of religious beliefs regarding marriage will encourage private citizens and institutions to demonstrate tolerance of others’ beliefs.”

According to Republican state Sen. Brian Kelsey — the original sponsor who rightly withdrew his sponsorship after news got out about the bill — and Republican state Sen. Mike Bell — who picked up where Kelsey’s conscience, or lack of conviction, intervened — SB 2566 will actually make Tennessee a more tolerant society by allowing anti-gay bigots to feel comfortable in their anti-gay bigotry.


Of course, the legislation, which, in Tennessee could easily pass, is wildly unconstitutional — here’s the portion of the bill that’s the most-offensive:

No person or religious or denominational organization shall be required to perform any of the following actions related to, or related to the celebration of, any civil union, domestic partnership, or marriage not recognized by this state, if doing so would violate the sincerely held religious beliefs of the person or religious or denominational organization regarding sex or gender:
(A) Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges;
(B) Provide counseling, adoption, foster care, or other social services;
(C) Provide employment or employment benefits; or
(D) Solemnize a civil union, domestic partnership, or marriage not recognized by this state.

This applies not only people who are in a same-sex marriage, but to anyone who is LGBT.

And it means anyone can refuse to perform any service or refuse to sell you anything, because you’re LGBT.

So, from Kansas to Idaho to Tennessee — there are more on the way, stay tuned — if you’re gay, and especially if you’re in a same-sex marriage or relationship, good luck getting your trash picked up, your oil changed, your driver’s license renewed, an anniversary cake or flowers on Valentine’s Day, your children properly taught, a doctor to treat you, a “room at the inn,” or just about anything else that a “religious” person doesn’t feel like doing, in the name of God.

The real question may very well be not how these unconstitutional bills will affect LGBT people, but how these so called “religious” people will be received upon their judgment day.

Hat tip: The Raw Story

Image via the National Organization For Marriage on Facebook

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Meri70 February 14, 2014 at 12:09 pm

then they need to Not serve any one who is an alcoholic, Drug addict, prostitute, any one who has kids and is not married Man or Woman, any woman who is not a Virgin and not married, any one who has been divorced, or remarried, any man with Long hair, or hair cut above the temples, any one wearing different fabrics, or who plants their garden with more than 1 crop, any one who eats pork, any one who eats shell fish, any one who has ever had an affair, any one who worships a god other than theirs, murders, rapist, childmolesters, or any one who supports any of these people…….. make them put that sign up, and watch how quick they have to close their business, because some where in that list it includes just about every one. Do not let them pick and choose witch of their biblical laws to follow. they have to follow them all or none. And when they end up going out of business we will take over there businesses and say it goes against our beliefs to serve , Bigots, bullies, christians, conservatives, or republicans, whats good for the goose is good for the gander. because if they are able to pick and choose, then we will not be able to go any where. or have any thing.

StanJames February 16, 2014 at 1:26 am

I thougght that Orvile Faubus = the bitch who said

segregation now segregaton forever was long ago dead

welcome to the racist south who now have another group to hate

bTW a cathoic deacon here in central md told us in a class on govt that in Canada the hatred betwen french and English lies just below the surface

We saw and example of that when Tito died and neighbors began killng their neighbors in the balkans- the real place where civilzattions have clashed= eg catholic, Muslim, E orthodox etc

welcome to th4e old confederacy being brought alive by the repubs newest group to hate

Hatred is passed down father to son at the diiner table -and the repubs wannabe kluxers

mikeincleveland February 14, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong but this seems to apply just to religious organizations, which is what our community has been saying is fine. Well, at least in the sense of "Fine, go be a bigoted organization whose membership will continue to dwindle as your faithful die off over the next 20 years. You're going to look like segregationist fools in history's books."

twiga_riq February 14, 2014 at 5:34 pm

"No person or religious or denominational organization shall be required to perform any of the following actions related to……" This would seem to encompass both any organization and any private citizen with 'strongly-held religious beliefs'.

mikeincleveland February 14, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Thanks RW for the clarification! This is insane…I doubt this will be the last of these bills since they're being pushed by one group- "Bill’s origin
Macheers has defended the bill in face of an onslaught of criticism.

“This type of bill or variants of it are all over the country, especially in states that have already enacted same-sex marriage. It strikes a balance,” he said Thursday. “The bill is neutral on the marriage issue. It just gives a measure of protection for both sides of the marriage issue.”

The ACLU has said that while other states provide protections for religious institutions and clergy, the Kansas bill goes far beyond by extending that shield to government employees.

Macheers did not write the bill and said he did not know its origin. It was crafted by the American Religious Freedom Program, an organization based in Washington D.C. Similar bills are being considered in Tennessee and South Dakota.

Read more here:

Merv9999 February 14, 2014 at 9:22 pm

The Tennessee bill, although it has much identical language, appears not to be quite as egregious as the Kansas bill, since it does not apply to government employees:

"'Person' means any natural person, partnership, trust, estate, corporation, association, joint venture, joint stock company, or other organization excluding employees of this state or local government"

Also, the Tennessee bill is limited to religious beliefs "related to the celebration of, any civil union, domestic partnership, or marriage not recognized by this state", while the Kansas bill was much broader, referring to "religious beliefs… regarding sex and gender."

However, the Tennessee bill also allows denial of "any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges", so it is just as broad as the Kansas bill in that respect.

The funny thing is, there is no state law in Tennessee prohibiting anti-gay discrimination now, so I'm not sure what the purpose of this bill is, unless it is to preempt local anti-discrimination laws. (Edit: Tennessee already legislatively preempted local anti-discrimination laws in 2011.)

Businesses in Kansas were concerned the bill there would allow individual employees to refuse to serve customers, with no recourse available by employers who did not agree. It's not clear to me whether that concern applies to the Tennessee bill.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.

StanJames February 16, 2014 at 1:27 am

ot its for the public square – anyone can refuse service to anyone. How about in the hospital emregency room – let someone die because you oppose their being gay , or otherwise.

BJLincoln February 14, 2014 at 12:34 pm

These bills just shows the country how badly the Christian religion has been twisted and cherry picked to support hate. They are targeting LGBT people while forgetting all the other things the Bible says are wrong.

SeanLiberty13 February 14, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Illegal, unconstitutional, un-American but if those uncivilized, anti-American bigoted pieces of dross want to go down down this path of turning their grotesque state into a barbaric third-world country like state then the anti-gay dross of Tennessee will be treated the same. LGBT and straight allies (REAL Americans) will not serve anti-gay dross. I will not be doing business with factories in barbarian Tennessee.

Furthermore, the sit-ins will commence. On March 25, 1960 Rodney Powell (sit-in organizer, freedom rider, student of MLK, black and gay) led a sit-in at a Walgreens drugstore in Nashville, Tennessee for refusing to allow blacks to sit at the counter. We, LGBT and straight allies, in the civil rights movement of 21st century will stage sit-ins in every business who refuses to serve gay people. Let the war begin and the anti-gay dross will lose. Those on the reich – I mean "right" always lose.

Link to the photo of the sit-in which was published in The Tennessean on March 26,1960

ccl187 February 14, 2014 at 7:28 pm

There are people promoting a similar initiative petition here in Oregon. It arose after a bakery was fined for refusing service to a couple who had been married in Washington state for their reception cake. It also has the function of turning out antis to oppose a full marriage equality initiative that will be on our ballot in November.

The text quoted above does not seem to me to license refusal of all services to any LGBT person for any reason. It appears to refer specifically to services connected with "celebration" of a civil union, domestic partnership or marriage not recognized by the state.

If there is other language that is not quoted, please include it, or explain more clearly how we get from discrimination against celebrations (which is repulsive enough) to discrimination across the board. I don't see it, right now. Possibly I am being dense.

If it is indeed discrimination across the board, we should note that it would affect straight people perceived as gay, while not affecting LGBT people whose orientation is not recognized by the discriminator. So that kind of law would create a disincentive to being out.

Merv9999 February 14, 2014 at 9:55 pm

It's already legal in Tennessee to discriminate against gay people, so in that sense this law is not necessary.

Even if it weren't legal to discriminate (perhaps in some locality), the bill doesn't define what is meant by "celebration" of a same-sex marriage/civil union/domestic partnership. Notice, it says "marriage" and not "wedding". The marriage, of course, lasts long after the wedding has finished. Some might argue that serving a gay couple at all is celebrating their marriage. I don't know if that would hold up in court, but it's certainly arguable.

ccl187 February 15, 2014 at 3:18 am

Thanks Merv9999. Your first sentence makes clear that this bill is a political dog whistle designed to ramp up bigotry within a context of lack of protection, and foster phony conservative victim politics. My brother lives in Kentucky and from what he says, local non-discrimination ordinances are spreading there, don't know if that is also true in Tennessee.To me that kind of reading of “celebration” would be far-fetched, but then, so is the idea that same-sex marriage harms heterosexual marriage, so who knows?

Merv9999 February 15, 2014 at 4:18 am

Unfortunately, local anti-discrimination ordinances aren't spreading in Tennessee because, I found out this evening, in 2011 the state outlawed them. This effectively repealed the then-existing ordinance in Nashville, and prevented any new local anti-discrimination ordinances statewide.

StanJames February 16, 2014 at 1:33 am

KY seems tro be more progressive.

In Tn last year former gov Huckabee said "we've got to get them to pray- at the point of a gun if necessary

sure sounds like that madman Mao Tse Tsung about 1960 "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun

This was one fo 14 conferences sponsored by the family reseach council whose president is tony perkins

who did the following in the past

perkinss is a Kluxer, the only thing missing is his white sheet and burning cross. He's from louisisana also – much of which is an armpit of hatred of gays and blacks etc

ccl187 February 14, 2014 at 7:32 pm

To clarify about the bakery case — the Oregon legislature passed a non-discrimination statute in 2007, that went into effect in 2008. The fines were for violating that law. Along with a fairly strong domestic partnership law, it was a response to a voter passed constitutional ban on same sex marriage in 2004, which is what Oregon United for Marriage is trying to overturn this November. The initiative petition here would apply only to services related to celebrating marriages and maybe domestic partnerships (haven't read closely) but would leave the rest of the non-discrimination statute in place.

mjsimmons February 14, 2014 at 10:48 pm

If a business or agency does not wish to provide a service to a Homosexual couple, that is ok. However they only have themselves to blame when their till run's dry from lack of customers because they choose to cater to their own religious beliefs and not to societies will. Trying to make a societal change through legal maneuvering only causes issues.

SOVERYGAY February 14, 2014 at 11:31 pm

So when do we get to start writing laws to outlaw religion. That is over due. It could easily be done..we could tax the charlatans at such an enormous rate that they would be bankrupt..then just start restricting their speech for exactly what it is ..hate speech..then do a major push on social media to not just dismiss religion but make it a pariah …then snuff it a match thrown into the sea

Sounds like a plan..lets get on that..add it to the agenda

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