A proposed bill that would have created a special "right" allowing individuals and businesses in Tennessee to discriminate against same-sex couples on the basis of religion was pulled from committee yesterday and is effectively dead for this legislative session.
The measure sponsored by State Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, was withdrawn from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Under Senate Bill 2566, a person or group wouldn't have to provide services for a domestic partnership or marriage not recognized by the state if doing so would violate their religious beliefs. Tennessee does not recognize same-sex marriages.
Bell reiterated that the legislation was intended to protect shop owners in Tennessee, noting that those in other states have been sued for refusing to do business.
Opponents said the language of the proposal was not only too broad, but it also basically condoned discrimination in the name of religious freedom.
State Senator Brian Kelsey, the bill's original sponsor, withdrew his sponsorship of the bill last week. According to WTVF, new sponsor Bell dropped the measure because "current state law already offers business owners the protections his bill spelled out." Derp!
Tennessee's Human Rights Act does not protect LGBT people from discrimination.
Photo source: the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage, via Facebook.