Feb 13 2014


In Tennessee.

There’s a petition.

Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Memphis and Germantown) and Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knox) recently filed a bill that would allow people and businesses to refuse to provide goods and services to homosexuals – and all they’d have to do to justify this action is say that it’s against their religious beliefs.

We’ve seen this attitude before, and it represents one of the darkest times in our Nation’s history. “We don’t serve your kind here,” said a waiter to students just wanting to have a meal at a local restaurant during this era. Those words have been repeated countless times since then, causing untold pain to those hearing them – simply because they looked differently, acted differently, or believed differently than those uttering them. Sometimes the pain was emotional, but more often than not, the pain was physical.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed this very kind of discrimination, but apparently Senator Kelsey and Rep. Dunn want to take Tennessee back to the days before this law was enacted.

I’ve had about enough reactionary legislators for today.


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  1. 1

    …Oh crap. Idaho, Oregon, Kansas, Tennessee, Arizona, South Dakota, Nevada (last year), Ohio, Mississippi, with more on the way.

    Al Jazeera: Wave of new state bills: religious freedom or license to discriminate?

    Nationwide network

    Cornerstone in Idaho, the Kansas Family Policy Council, and the Center for Arizona Policy, which supports the bill there, are all part of a network of 38 state “family policy councils” pressing for these laws under the umbrella of Citizen Link, the advocacy arm of the conservative Christian powerhouse Focus on the Family. Citizen Link says its aim is to “help citizens understand and passionately engage in policy issues relevant to families from a foundation firmly established in a biblical worldview.”

    Tom Minnery, executive director of Citizen Link, declined a request for an interview.

    Lynde said, “We are not following a template” but “we’ve been involved in working on the language” of two religious-freedom bills in Idaho.

    The Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Washington-based conservative think tank, in 2012 created the American Religious Freedom Project (ARFP), with a goal of 50 religious-freedom caucuses in state legislatures. Today, there are 18, in Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

  2. 2

    It’s becoming the last gasp of the desperate. It’s like blasphemy laws – the bigots don’t have the force of argument or force of evidence on their side, so they’re resorting to the force of legalized violence. It’s all they have left.

  3. 3
    Scr... Archivist

    Other states looking at protecting religiously-motivated discrimination include:

    South Dakota, with Senate Bill 128 — http://www.capjournal.com/news/secular-group-holds-rally-outside-capitol/article_d2dac4cc-8a3d-11e3-ba19-001a4bcf887a.html

    Arizona, with HB 2153 — http://azstarnet.com/news/state-and-regional/bill-enhancing-religious-defense-advances-in-arizona-legislature/article_047b0f4e-f560-5955-92ee-a8f609ceb650.html

    Missouri, relating to health care workers — http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/apexchange/2014/02/12/mo-xgr–health-care-conscience.html

    And possibly Mississippi — http://www.clarionledger.com/viewart/20140201/NEWS01/302010017/Miss-Senate-OKs-change-state-seal

    A proposal in Maine was recently defeated. http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/Maine_legislative_panel_rejects_religious_freedom_bill.html

    The Washington Blade and Al Jazeera both mentioned Ohio as trying this, but I haven’t found anything out about that. Meanwhile, last December Senator Lee of Utah proposed a bill in Congress to protect religiously-motivated discrimination, and he is also teaming up with Ted Cruz to “cede marriage definition to states for federal purposes, which would effectively reverse the gains same-sex couples made after the Defense of Marriage Act was overturned by the Supreme Court in the summer.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/02/13/cruz-lee-introduce-state-marriage-defense-act/

    It still amazes me that these people are making bigotry such a central tenet of their religion. It is so important to them that they sponsor legislation to protect their “rights” to deny other people their rights. They really do want to lose the younger generation.

  4. 4

    The last gasp of desperate institutions tends to leave a high body count in its wake.

  5. 5
    Robert B.

    Once is chance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action. I strongly suspect these people are all reading from a common playbook. I’m not sure it’s a smart play, though – one federal court ruling could sweep the board.

  6. 6
    Marcus Ranum

    Can we reserve the right to refuse service to christians?

    Oh, I bet there’d be some screaming.

  7. 7
    Dave Ricks

    On my first reading, the bill is specific to “furtherance” of gay marriage, civil union, and domestic partnership. But including civil union and domestic partnership goes beyond “defending marriage”. And I wonder if delivering flowers on Valentine’s Day would be “furtherance” of a domestic partnership.

    I have to wonder if the sponsors Bell and Dunn miss America’s anti-miscegenation laws.

  8. 8
    Claire Ramsey


  9. 9

    This is… *no words*
    It can’t be allowed to happen in America. It will spread elsewhere.

    Human beings are terrible people sometimes.

  10. 10
    Allen Linville

    I refuse service to Rethuglicans. That might get their attention.

  11. 11

    @rq, #7: too late. American homophobia has already infected African nations, and European and Australian right-wingers are trying to import the same.

  12. 12

    @5, Robert:

    Once is chance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action. I strongly suspect these people are all reading from a common playbook. I’m not sure it’s a smart play, though – one federal court ruling could sweep the board.

    I have to suspect ALEC involvement, although a quick Google didn’t turn up anything concrete.

  13. 13

    I have to suspect ALEC involvement, although a quick Google didn’t turn up anything concrete.

    Me too. I haven’t searched. But colour me unsurprised if it turns out that way eventually.

    I wouldn’t put anything past that lot.

  14. 14

    Could a restaurant refuse service to people of color on the grounds that they “look gay”?

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