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Tennessee bill would allow LGBTQ, racial discrimination

Mar 17, 2023

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Tennessee state legislators are debating a new bill that would allow county clerks and public officiants to not solemnize — that is, to duly perform — a marriage based on their personal beliefs. Tennessee State Rep. Monty Fritts (R-Kingston) introduced HB 0878 and denies it explicitly allows someone to not solemnize a same-sex marriage. Tennessee lawmakers in 2023 have already passed laws limiting drag show performances and banning gender-affirming care for minors.

Straight Arrow News contributor Rashad Richey says this new bill would essentially legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

This has gone too far. The wording of this bill provides the framework for legal government discrimination. You see, there was a time in our country’s history when discrimination was part of the culture of America. Now it is becoming part of the actual statutory record. 

The bill being proposed allows for a clerk to insert personal belief over the element of non-discrimination. Let me tell you why this is imperative to pay attention to and to oppose. You see, the individuals that the clerk may disagree with — for example, an interracial couple — the clerk may hold a personal belief that interracial marriage is a no-no to them. And by allowing that personal belief to extend to the level of discrimination or discriminatory action, keep in mind that creates an issue for taxpayers. Because everyone — straight, gay, lesbian, Black, white, Brown — everyone pays taxes. 

You pay taxes in order to receive government services without discrimination. You may not like a particular dynamic of American culture. Deal with it. It’s part of a free democracy. See, these things are permissible. 

When you pay taxes, you should be able to receive benefits from the money they take from you…everybody. Your personal beliefs can be exercised in ways that are appropriate, but this would be an inappropriate way to exercise that belief. Why would anyone want to utilize their faith in the context of a taxpayer job or tax-paid job in order to say no to somebody?

All right, let’s talk about it — out-of-control legislation, we got more. 

Tennessee House Bill 0878, presented by Representative Monty Fritts, would allow a government worker to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community, against interracial marriages … yes, the wording of the bill would allow for a county clerk to not solemnize a marriage based on personal belief alone. 

This has gone too far. The wording of this bill provides the framework for legal government discrimination. You see, there was a time in our country’s history when discrimination was part of the culture of America. Now it is becoming part of the actual statutory record. 

The bill being proposed allows for a clerk to insert personal belief over the element of non-discrimination. Let me tell you why this is imperative to pay attention to and to oppose. You see, the individuals that the clerk may disagree with — for example, an interracial couple — the clerk may hold a personal belief that interracial marriage is a no-no to them. And by allowing that personal belief to extend to the level of discrimination or discriminatory action, keep in mind that creates an issue for taxpayers. Because everyone — straight, gay, lesbian, black, white, brown — everyone pays taxes. 

You pay taxes in order to receive government services without discrimination. You may not like a particular dynamic of American culture. Deal with it. It’s part of a free democracy. See, these things are permissible. 

When you pay taxes, you should be able to receive benefits from the money they take from you, everybody. Your personal beliefs can be exercised in ways that are appropriate, but this would be an inappropriate way to exercise that belief. Why would anyone want to utilize their faith in the context of a taxpayer job or tax-paid job, in order to say no to somebody? 

You know, I’m waiting for the day when one of these faith-based bills would actually create coalition rather than discrimination; would allow for unity, rather than disunity. Isn’t it ironic that every time a Republican presents one of these personal belief bills or one of these faith-based bills, they do one thing; they allow you to legally discriminate against somebody else. Should it not be the other way around? Should not these bills, if they are faith based, provide opportunity and connection rather than disconnection? 

Let me know your thoughts.

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