Claiming that the “Turn the Gays Away” bill was not designed to allow businesses to discriminate against gay people, Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) asked his colleague, Senator Mike Bell (R-Meigs County) to refer SB2566 to subcommittee. The bill is effectively dead.
The hard work of the Tennessee Equality Project can not be understated here. Chris Sanders, Jonathan Cole, and TEP members throughout the state pulled out all the stops to ensure that the word got out about the discriminatory nature of the bill.
Sen. Bell said in prepared statements that the bill was intended to protect business owners who did not want to be sued for refusing service for same-sex weddings. He then remarked that such weddings are not allowed in Tennessee law, and that he believed that “current law” prevents such lawsuits from being filed.
Bell’s comments included a reference to Betty Görtz-Odgaard and Richard Odgaard, a case in Iowa where a Mennonite couple who refused to rent their facility (a former church) to a gay couple. The building currently acts as a flower shop and bistro.
The reality is that this bill blew up in the face of anyone who touched it, and the shell-shocked Senators were all too eager to get rid of this political time bomb. Thanks to everyone who contacted their Senator. This is how it’s done, folks.