Memphis chef joins community in human rights battle - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis chef wants to end proposed 'Turn Away the Gays' bill

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English is a straight married Memphian concerned about human rights and the reputation of community he serves. English is a straight married Memphian concerned about human rights and the reputation of community he serves.
English threw down the gauntlet on Facebook, offering to host a fundraiser for anyone who runs against Kelsey. English threw down the gauntlet on Facebook, offering to host a fundraiser for anyone who runs against Kelsey.

(WMC-TV) - Republican Tennessee Senator Brian Kelsey is apparently feeling the heat from a religious bill he sponsored that has sparked outrage. It is bill that would legally allow people to refuse services to same-sex couples without the threat of being sued.

As of Thursday morning Tennessee Senator Brian Kelsey was the sponsor of Senate Bill 2566, a bill that would allow people or religious organizations with "strong religious beliefs" to refuse to offer goods and services to that would further the unions of same sex couples in Tennessee.

"I heard mixed views from the constituents in my district regarding protecting religious freedom, so I decided to not sponsor the legislation," said Kelsey.

The bill sent shock waves through the Memphis community.

World-renowned Memphis Chef Kelly English, who is known for his culinary creativity, finds the bill extremely distasteful.

"The world is going in the right direction, and you can either get on board with it and try to steer it where you want it to go or you can fight it and look like a fool," said English.

English is a straight married Memphian concerned about human rights and the reputation of community he serves.

"We do a lot of traveling and we get to cook in a lot of different places, and I hate that someone is making people outside of here think that that's how people think here," he said. 

English threw down the gauntlet on Facebook, offering to host a fundraiser for anyone who runs against Kelsey. Offers to help came pouring in, and a petition to block the bill surfaced. By midmorning Thursday, Kelsey's name disappeared from the bill. A small battle was won.

"If my name was on there I'd get it off there right now too," added English.

But, the war is far from over. The bill that has been dubbed the Turn Away the Gays Bill is still in play at the state capitol now sponsored by Republican Senator Mike Bell of Riceville, Tennessee.

Bell didn't return calls to Action News 5 team on Thursday. The bill was placed on a senate judiciary committee to be discussed February 18th. Kelsey may no longer be the sponsor but he serves as chairman of that committee.

Gay rights advocates told Action News 5 say Bell could still have influence over how close it gets to becoming a law.

Copyright 2014 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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