Tennessee Is About To Legalize Bullying Of LGBT Kids

628x471Tennessee’s state senate has sent SB 1793/HB 1547 to Governor Haslam, who is expected to sign the bill into law, but I hope he doesn’t. Take away the legalese, the code, and the political language, and what SB 1793/HB 1547 becomes is a license to hate, and a license to bully. It’s yet another “right to discriminate” bill, but this time, it’s aimed squarely at teenagers. LGBT teenagers, to be exact.

The gist of this bill is students will have the right to, using “religious freedom” as their excuse, attack, demean, verbally abuse, and bully any other student with whose lifestyle they do not agree. I’m sorry, what I meant to write is any fundamentalist Christian student. I am sure Muslim students, Buddhist students, Wiccan students, or Atheist students will not be able to avail themselves of the protection offered in this law. I told my Atheist son about the bill, saying it was being promoted as religious freedom. His eyes narrowed, and he said “That’s not religious freedom, Mom, that’s a license to hate.” And he’s right.

Arizona just tried this, and failed miserably. Governor Brewer, faced with multiple threats of boycotts, including one from the NFL, pulled her head out the Tea Party’s ass long enough to veto their “religious freedom” bill. Conservatives went nuts. Todd Starnes wrote:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer makes Christians in her state second class citizens.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announces that homosexual rights trump religious rights.

Ben Shapiro chimed in with:

Here comes the veto from gutless Jan Brewer.

And Rich Lowry of the National Review Tweeted:

Brewer veto shows that poorly informed hysteria works.

Dan Gainor, from the conservative Media Research Center, decried the veto, offering his financial support to anyone running against Governor Brewer, and encouraged fellow conservatives to do the same.

Now we have a bill in Tennessee, unanimously passed by the state senate, that will allow fundamentalist Christian students to bully other kids. But let’s just call it what it is, shall we? It’s a bill that lets bigoted teenagers, raised by bigoted parents, attack LGBT teens. Remember, this is the same state where Stacey Campfield tried to pass the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill failed, thanks in no small part to Rep. John Ragan‘s raging homophobia, and perhaps because the language wasn’t subtle enough. Tennessee has obviously worked out those kinks, and here we are with SB 1793/HB 1547.

A friend of mine posted a link to an article about the Tennessee License to Hate bill on his Facebook wall earlier today, and among the comments expressing outrage, sorrow and frustration, came this little tidbit:

Bullying is good. Bullying is a key part in social Darwinism. Normality will survive and the oddballs will need to conform or disappear.

The person who wrote this continued in the same vein, calling one woman who questioned him “Sweetheart,” and insulting everyone who was trying to explain why the legislation Haslam is probably going to sign into law is so horrible. Another person posted a link to David Barton’s site, Wallbuilders, in support of the Tennessee bill, so I just quit and went to get my hair done.

We have religious freedom in America. Religious freedom is not what these raging, bigoted, homophobic idiots think it is. Religious freedom means I can worship whatever I want, so can you, so can we all, but we cannot shove our beliefs down someone else’s throat. We cannot walk up to a 16-year old gay kid, and tell him he’s of Satan, or he’s going to hell, or he should be stoned to death because RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. I’m a liberal Christian, and I cannot use RELIGIOUS FREEDOM to beat the living crap out of Pat Robertson. Bryan Fischer cannot scream “JESUS” while verbally assaulting a lesbian high school student. That is not religious freedom. That is bullying, it’s abuse, it’s hate wrapped in the Bible, and it’s wrong.

You know what happened Wednesday, speaking of bullying and doing the wrong thing? World Vision caved to all the fundamentalist Christians who threatened to stop sponsoring poor children all over the world, and reversed its decision to hire gay, married Christians. They lasted a whopping TWO DAYS, then all the folks who hate in the name of Christ got their wish, and World Vision apologized and went back to discriminating. For two days, affirming Christians were giddy with the knowledge that one of the largest Christian charities in the world had seen the light, and chosen to embrace married gay and lesbian Christians. We rejoiced in this baby step, because we rejoice in all the baby steps, and then BAM, rug yanked, shoe dropped.

I have written and said the following for, well, ever. There is nothing wrong with being LGBT. Nothing. There is a lot wrong with Tennessee politicians who are so consumed with hate, they would promote and pass legislation that will make school a very scary place for LGBT teens. There is a lot wrong with World Vision’s decision to continue to ignore the core message of Christ-love one another as I have loved you. Oh I know, they “love” LGBTs, they just don’t want to hire them, or allow them safe schools, or serve them in stores, or let them get married, or adopt children, or exist.

I am one of fifty online writers in America chosen to preview “God and the Gay Christian” by Matthew Vines. Reading this profoundly moving book while watching Tennessee and World Vision and Franklin Graham has opened my eyes even more to the truth. We are trudging down a path whose journey will end with sorrow and pain. State after state will try, Hobby Lobby is trying, churches are preaching politics, pastors like Franklin Graham are saying the most incredibly hateful things about the LGBT community, and lost in the miasma of hate are the victims. Please stand up against the hate. Help the victims, not just here, but all over the world. In America, you can’t be executed for being LGBT, but there are countries where you can. We must stand against these laws, these people, and their horrible messages of bigotry.

We have to stand up. We must stand up.

Erin Nanasi

Erin Nanasi is the creator of The Bachmann Diaries: Satirical Excerpts from Michele Bachmann's Fictional Diary. She hates writing about herself in the third person. Erin enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with family. And wombats. Come visit Erin on on Facebook. She also can be found on Twitter at @WriterENanasi.

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