NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) faced criticism for leaving encouraging comments on nearly naked photos of a 20-year-old gay man. That man, only identified as Franklyn, caught up with WKRN on Wednesday night.

“I just hope that he knows I love him and LGBTQ+ loves him and would love him even more if he would open his heart and treat everyone else the way he wants to be treated because the way I want to be treated is to be accepted and be able to be myself and not be taken to police,” he said.

Critics labeled the lieutenant governor as hypocritical, as the legislature has consistently passed anti-LGBTQ+ bills.

McNally, to his credit, didn’t detract from the controversy Thursday. After the Senate session, he stopped and took a few questions from several reporters, including myself. 

“I’ve got friends that are in that community, and I’m not against those individuals,” McNally said. “I just try to encourage and support individuals that I know.”

Though he has voted to pass many of the anti-LGBTQ+ bills, he has, on occasion, voted either against or “Present Not Voting” on some—an example would be a bill to allow adoption agencies not to place children with same-sex parents.

Lee quickly signs bill to halve Nashville’s Metro Council

It was mere minutes between the time the Senate passed the bill and Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) signed it.

Many reporters in the State Capitol press corps said it was one of the briefest lengths of time between passage and signature.

The bill has drawn the ire of Democrats and local Nashville leaders alike. The sponsor of the bill, House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) oversees much of his district in Sumner County, which has over 50 council members throughout its area.

“The sheer hypocrisy of that given that Sumner County has 55 locally elected officials,” Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) said. “Their county commission has 24 members, which is obviously greater than the amount that they’re trying to enact into law to represent the entire city of Nashville.”

Republicans maintain this bill affects the whole state and is not punishment for Nashville declining the 2024 RNC, even though it only affects metropolitan governments. There are only three such governments in Tennessee (Metro-Nashville, Hartsville-Trousdale and Lynchburg-Moore), and only one has more than the now-required 20 members. You can probably guess which one that is.

Republicans have also maintained that they’re doing Nashville a favor by passing this legislation. Sen. Adam Lowe (R-Calhoun) made a Biblical comparison while talking in favor of the bill in session on Thursday.

“There’s a reason we’re judged by 12 of our peers in a jury, there’s a reason, I think, Christ walked with 12 disciples at the end of the day,” he said. “But ultimately, what we know is as that group size increases, the ability of the group to make positive and effective decisions decreases.”

In a separate interesting thought in the same session, Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) seemingly spoke for the city – though I don’t think they asked him to do that.

“We’re not punishing this mayor at all. We’re rewarding the mayor,” Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) said in Senate session Thursday morning. “Every mayor in the nation and the world would rather deal with a smaller body.”

Though I haven’t specifically asked Nashville Mayor John Cooper himself what he thinks, I’m not sure he would agree.

What’s coming up?

One thing to keep an eye on is the bill to allow some exceptions for abortion in cases where the life of the mother is at stake. It would rework the ‘affirmative defense’ language in our code. It heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday. But take that schedule with a grain of salt, as the bill is number 49 on the agenda.

A bill that would define the term ‘sex’ in our code as your biological sex at birth could cost Tennessee over $2 billion in federal funding – though the House sponsor said he didn’t care what it’d cost. It’s headed to the Senate floor Monday night. A House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee placed it behind the budget, which means it can’t be considered until the General Assembly passes the budget.

A bill to ban TennCare from contracting with organizations that provide transgender care is scheduled to go through the aforementioned House Finance Subcommittee Wednesday. Unlike the abortion bill, this one is number one on the agenda.