Memphis Chef Trying to Unseat Senator Over Gay Bill

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Update: Senate Bill 2566 was indefinitely delayed in committee Tuesday. Some lawmakers plan to reintroduce it next year.

(Memphis) One of Memphis' best known chefs is trying to cook-up some opposition against a local state State senator.

Kelly English owns Restaurant Iris and wants to create a recipe to defeat state senator Brian Kelsey who introduced a bill opponents call "turn the gays away."

“I don`t hate Brian Kelsey. I hate what he believes in,” said English.

When Chef English heard about SB2566 he says he had to say something, “I just know how I feel when I see things.”

He took to Facebook, calling the bill's sponsor Memphis Senator Brian Kelsey a "piece of garbage."

The bill, if passed, would allow owners of private businesses who have strong religious beliefs to turn away gay customers.

In other states, bakery owners have been sued for refusing to bake cakes for gay weddings.

English felt so strongly against this, he offered to host a fundraiser for anyone who wanted to unseat Kelsey in the next election, “We we have gotten a lot of calls from a lot of different people.”

He says about a dozen people have called who want to take English up on his offer.

English still plans to make good on it, even though Kelsey because of backlash took his name off the bill.

“I think a leopard can put a coat on but he is still a leopard and has its spots,” said English.

While other lawmakers are now pushing the bill forward, Kelsey still has words to defend it.

He sent WREG this statement:

"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.”

Still, English says it’s an idea he just can't digest.

“The thing that bothers me the most is that people outside of Memphis and Tennessee think this is the way we feel and it’s not,” said English.  “This is not my Tennessee at all.”

At this point, English says he doesn't know who he`ll be throwing a fundraiser for.

All he knows it’s going to be someone who has the opposite views of Kelsey.

Sentator Kelsey says he decided not to sponsor the bill anymore because his constituents had "mixed reviews" but says he still believes in protecting different religious views.


  • Jets

    YAAAAY, Chef English!!!! Now for other chefs to do the same. Westbrook Baptist “Church” bigots and sympathizers, TAKE THAT!!!!

  • Kenneth Grantham

    I stand behind Senator Kelsey, I am one of the religious people and don’t think it is right!! This country was built on the belief in GOD, and it aught to run so. That’s what’s wrong with it today to many people changing things that were put there with good reason and intent! If GOD and the BIBLE says it is wrong, it’s wrong!!! If you don’t like it live with it or get right!! And quit trying to change the laws to suit oneself.

    • Jared

      When you say that this nation is a Christian nation, you are wrong: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” -US Constitution.

      If it is wrong to conduct gay marriage, let it be the gay’s problem. Gay marriage has no effect on anyone other than the gay couple. A kid will be raised the same way as straight parents, etc. A common saying about religion is that it’s like a penis: You can have one, and you can be proud of it, but don’t shove it down other’s throats. You know what else the Bible says: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Mark 12:31

      According to the bible, it is also wrong to hate gays. While I am an atheist, the Bible says that God still loves gays, and that we should love them, too, no matter what. We are not a Christian nation, we are a nation with freedom of beliefs. Thus, banning gay marriage is arguably UNCONSTITUTIONAL, as is respects the establishment of a Christian nation. So what if someone doesn’t want to serve gays, they have no right to discriminate. Let them disagree, but please, do not let them shove it down other people’s throats.

  • Christian

    It is a very touchy subject but by forcing some to go against their beliefs in order to accommodate another’s beliefs how is that fair? My beliefs are as important to me as yours are to you and I would never want someone who does not agree with mine to be forced to go against theirs…where is the fairness in any of that? Nobody would question a business that simply stated they were too busy to accommodate a customer…it only becomes an issue when different views, values, or beliefs are mentioned and I believe each side has a right to their own.

  • Kenneth

    Leviticus 18:22 If you do not believe in GOD and his word the BIBLE. Then this won’t matter, and also verse 29 and so on read the whole chapter or book if you like. I do love my neighbor, but I do have the ability and right given to me by GOD to shun other people.

    • Patricia Aull Caley

      Leviticus 11:7, 11:12 and 19:19. Do you cook kosher? Do you wear polyester? Do you play football? You can’t pick and choose, Kenneth. If you follow the biblical example of marriage polygamy would be allowed, divorce would not, adultery would be punishable by stoning (the woman, anyway) and if a woman’s husband dies she will be given to his brother… even if he already has a wife. I believe in the Bible too, but I think Jesus said it best: “love your neighbor.”

  • Scientificbrain

    I fully support Chef English! People are absolutely amazing! Oh no, it’s wrong to discriminate against blacks (for example) but this….oh yeah, we can find justification. The bible tells us so. The bible is old, translated, re-translated, edited, books removed, etc. You have faith that it’s true. Faith is not fact. Nobody KNOWS, everybody BELIEVES. It’s a crock. Shame on any person who shuns another. It is not your right. Justify as you may. What would Jesus do?

Comments are closed.