Memphis Chef Trying to Unseat Senator Over Gay Bill

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

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(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.


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