TN Lawmaker Under Fire For Religous Freedom Bill

(Memphis) State Senator Brian Kelsey wants to make sure businesses and others with strong religious beliefs against gay marriage are protected, but one gay and lesbian group says a new bill he is proposing would give them the right to discriminate.

The Religious Freedom Act states no person or religious or denominational organization should be required to provide certain services related to the celebration of any civil union or marriage not recognized by the state.

“Currently the law in place was adopted by over Tennessee voters in 2006 with over 80 percent voting in favor of marriage being between one man and woman. If that were to change then this would be necessary to protect the religious freedom of those who have different view,” said Brian Kelsey

An organization that protects the rights of gays, lesbians and transgender people in Tennessee says people have the right to refuse goods and services, but not based on a person’s status.

“People can maintain their beliefs, but to refuse goods and services because of someone’s opinion of someone’s orientation is pretty ridiculous,” said Jonathan Cole with The Tennessee Equality Project.

Cole says he’s concerned because the bill includes denying services for things like counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services.

“This bill is broadly worded it’s going to violate the rights of lesbian couples around Tennessee,” said Cole.

Kelsey says every state that has adopted some same-sex union has provided for a religious freedom exception.

He says, ultimately,  it’s about protecting the religious freedoms of all.