‘Turn Away the Gays’ bill killed in committee - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

'Turn Away the Gays' bill killed in committee

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Senate Bill 2566 would have allowed people or religious organizations with "strong religious beliefs" to refuse to offer goods and services that would further the unions of same-sex couples in Tennessee. Senate Bill 2566 would have allowed people or religious organizations with "strong religious beliefs" to refuse to offer goods and services that would further the unions of same-sex couples in Tennessee.
World-renowned Memphis Chef Kelly English openly spoke against the bill. World-renowned Memphis Chef Kelly English openly spoke against the bill.
Republican Tennessee Senator Brian Kelsey, Photo via his Twitter Republican Tennessee Senator Brian Kelsey, Photo via his Twitter
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - The Religious Freedom Act, known to some as the "Turn Away the Gays" bill, died in the general subcommittee Tuesday.

Senate Bill 2566 would have allowed people or religious organizations with strong religious beliefs to refuse to offer goods and services that would further the unions of same-sex couples in Tennessee.

Republican Tennessee Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown filed the bill in early February. Prior to Tuesday's action, Kelsey made the following statement:

"The text of the Religious Freedom Act never allowed a restaurant or hospital to refuse service to anyone. I would never introduce legislation that attempts to limit the civil rights of any Tennessean, whether straight or gay. The bill was designed to protect a pastor, rabbi, or singer from being sued and forced to participate in a same-sex ceremony against their will."

Last week, Kelsey withdrew sponsorship of the bill after hearing mixed reviews from his constituents.

"While I still believe in protecting the differing religious views of everyone in my district, I have decided not to sponsor this particular piece of legislation," he said.

Opponents said the bill consisted of broad language and condoned discrimination in the name of public freedom.

World-renowned Memphis Chef Kelly English openly spoke against the bill. He offered to host a fundraiser for anyone who would run against Kelsey. The senator's name soon disappeared from the bill after a petition circulated social media.

"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 [Memphis] think that that's how people think here," said English.

The sponsorship transferred from Kelsey to Sen. Mike Bell, R-Athens. Before the bill was shelved away for the year, Bell said he wanted to protect business owners.

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