VIDEO: “HANDS OFF OUR C.O.B!” – Nashville Protests Gov. Lee-Supported Bill to Undercut Police Oversight Board

In November, after a lot of hard organizing work, the people of Nashville voted to approve a referendum that would give them a Community Oversight Board to hold Nashville’s police accountable.

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REMINDER: Anti-LGBT Adoption Bill Hypocrite Hensley Had Affair with Cousin/Nurse/Patient, Divorced FOUR times

As we mentioned yesterday, Tennessee Republicans have unleashed a slew of discriminatory anti-LGBT legislation that seeks to allow state-sanctioned discrimination by businesses, and make it so that adoption agencies can refuse to allow LGBT parents to adopt.

State Senator Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, sponsor of one of the anti-LGBT adoption  bills (SB 0848), had this to say in justification of his bill, which is being carried by Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, in the House:

“We were concerned that adoption agencies, such as religious adoption agencies, would be required to allow adoption when they had religious beliefs that contradicted certain lifestyles. That they would be forced to allow adoptions to people they felt were not appropriate parents.”

“Certain lifestyles”… “Appropriate parents”…

Seems worth noting the hypocrisy of Senator Hensley, who has been married and divorced four times and who slept with his 2nd cousin who happened to be a nurse who worked for him (on a lapsed license) while also inappropriately prescribing her pain pills, while they were both married, being the one to drop a bill judging the “appropriateness” of others.

Read all about it in this Nashville Scene article.

The woman testified under oath about their affair, also detailing how she spent two nights with him in Nashville on the taxpayers’ dime.

We’re pretty sure The Bible Joey is using to justify this discrimination has a thing or two to say about his actions also.

It’s also worth noting that this is not the first time Hensley has gone all-out to persecute the LGBT community. He has been doing this for years.

From the Scene:

Hensley gained national notoriety in 2012 as a sponsor of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would have banned public school teachers from even mentioning that homosexuality exists. During one hearing that year, Hensley commented, “I don’t think Modern Family is appropriate for children to watch” — because it features a married gay couple raising children. This session, Hensley is sponsoring a bill from the Tennessee Family Action Council that would make children created using donor sperm illegitimate — an attempt to make it harder for gay and lesbian parents to establish paternity.

Modern Family, senator? Seriously?

If you’re as appalled by Hensley’s Horrendous Hypocrisy as we are, holler at him HERE.

HERE WE GO AGAIN: TN Republicans Unleash Slew of Anti-LGBT Discrimination Bills

This week Tennessee Republicans have introduced a handful of bills that seek to legalize discrimination against Tennessee’s marginalized communities, targeting LGBT people specifically.

Up first, “The Business License to Discriminate Bill” is back. It passed the Tennessee Senate in 2017, but didn’t move in the House last year.

The bill – SB364/HB563 – put forth by Senator Todd Gardenhire and Rep. Jason Zachary, would:

“prohibit state and local governmental entities from taking discriminatory action against a business based on that business’s internal policies.”

By defending businesses from “discrimination” rather than people, what the bill really seeks to do is allow businesses to do the discriminating against marginalized communities without worrying about losing government contracts – which would essentially amount to taxpayer-funded discrimination against marginalized groups such as LGBT people, Muslims, etc.

As Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project puts it:

“If, for example, a business has a policy of not treating married same-gender couples the same as different-gender couples, government could not refuse to contract with them solely on that basis.”

Meanwhile, on the adoption front, multiple bills filed this week would allow adoption agencies to deny services to same-sex couples based on religious objections.

According to The Tennessean:

One bill, SB 0848/HB 1152, filed by Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, and Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, specifies that an adoption agency would not be required to provide services to a couple if it would conflict with the agency’s “sincerely held religious beliefs,” and prevents the state or a local government from taking adverse action against the group.

Legislation filed by Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, puts in place similar protections for discrimination based on religious beliefs and would prevent a couple from suing the adoption agency for refusing to provide services.”

Got that? One says the couple can’t sue, the other says the government can’t sue. Taken together, these two bills would allow adoption agencies to discriminate with impunity.

As Senator Joey Hensley openly admits:

“We were concerned that adoption agencies, such as religious adoption agencies, would be required to allow adoption when they had religious beliefs that contradicted certain lifestyles. That they would be forced to allow adoptions to people they felt were not appropriate parents, so we didn’t want those agencies to not be able to provide adoptions.”

Not “appropriate” parents. Meanwhile studies show children have just as much chance to thrive with “certain” parents as with straight parents, and the number of children being raised by “certain” parents is in the hundreds of thousands.

More good information can be found here.

The Human Rights Campaign and other organizations will join the Tennessee Equality Project in opposing this discriminatory legislation that Sanders says “does not put the interests of children first”.

It should be about the kids who need loving homes, not the bigotry of a few GOP legislators. If you agree, holler at GardenhireZachary Hensley, Ragan, Rudd and let them know what you think.

 

CLAY COUNTY TO GOV. LEE: “HELP US!” – Hospital Closure Day of Action Planned for Monday

Last week yet another of Tennessee’s rural hospitals announced it would be closing its doors, bringing the total up to a dozen – the most per capita of any state in the country.

This time it’s Clay County’s Cumberland River Hospital falling on hard times.

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STATE OF THE STATE: Unhealthy, Impoverished, Underfunded Ed, Low Pay… But Cheap!

Our friends at Think Tennessee have just put out their yearly breakdown of where Tennessee stacks up with the other states on important things like opioid prescriptions (49th), poverty (41st), education funding (45th), Adult diabetes (45th), infant mortality (47th), mental health providers (45th) life expectancy (44th), and much more.

Some people are doing very well in our state, but on the whole the news is really not very good. We’re unhealthy, there’s a lot of poverty, our education is underfunded, and the jobs – although we have them – don’t pay well.

We deeply appreciate that Think Tennessee does this, and have made a video out of what they’ve found. If you enjoy it, feel free to share on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, or anywhere else you spend your time.

Republicans Introduce Bill to Undercut Nashville’s Community Oversight Board

In November, Davidson County residents overwhelmingly voted to create a community oversight board to look at alleged police misconduct. Speaker of the TN House Glen Casada immediately threatened to render the board virtually powerless, and now Chairman of the House Judiciary committee Rep. Michael Curcio and the Republicans have introduced a bill to do just that.

The Bill – HB 658 – would not allow the community oversight board to issue subpoenas for documents or compel witness testimonies. Without that power, the board will have little authority to “oversee” much of anything.

Michael Curcio and the Republicans are claiming these are “balanced guidelines” for the board, but Community Oversight Now, the group who successfully pushed for the board, disagrees – and is now reaching out to athletes and encouraging them not to come to Tennessee, launching a new campaign called “Don’t Play Where You’re Not Welcome.”

Community Oversight Now’s statement:

“We are calling on Tennessee lawmakers to vote NO on HB 658. We are calling on the Governor, Lt. Governor, Senator leadership, and people of good will to reject this discriminatory legislation. Additionally, we are exploring all legal options to prevent state preemption.”

Mayoral candidate John Ray Clemmons, currently a state rep, also spoke out unequivocally on twitter about the move, saying:

Clemmons also added:

Funny how the “small government” guys always seem to want government to step in and get a lot bigger when something happens they don’t like. Casada, Curcio, and the Republicans claim they want to protect both police and citizens with this bill, but what they should really be concerned about protecting is the truth and justice. If you take care of those, the rest will take care of itself.

This bill is not a step in that direction. If anything, it’s an impediment.

Holler at Speaker Casada and Rep. Curcio and let them know if you agree with Community Oversight Now that the people of Nashville have spoken, and these non-Nashville representatives need to stay out of the way.

Channel 5 Puts A Face On TN’s Coverage Gap

Yesterday’s News Channel 5 broadcast contained a powerful segment about the hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans stuck in the “coverage gap” thanks to the TN GOP’s refusal to expand medicaid, which has cost our state $6 Billion and counting and helped us lead the country in rural hospital closures per capita. Read more

Even Radical Pro-Life Group Doesn’t Support “Unconstitutional” Heartbeat Bill

Rep. Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough) has introduced a bill that would make it a crime to perform or obtain an abortion in Tennessee after a fetal heartbeat is detected, with the only exception being a medical emergency – a bill that was already struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge in Iowa.

The Bill has the support of both Governor Lee and Glen Casada, who told the Associated Press that he thinks it’s “a fight worth having in front of the Supreme Court.”

Even Tennessee Right to Life, a group that advocates against abortions, opposes the measure because they believe it would not survive legal challenges. It’s similar to one that was introduced in 2017 that the then Tennessee Attorney General also called “constitutionally suspect” which failed in large part due to lack of support from Tennessee Right to Life.

This bill – HB 0077 – would essentially make it a crime to provide OR receive an abortion after 8 weeks (when a fetal heartbeat is detectable), with the only exception exception being a medical emergency.

There’s no mention of rape, incest or mental health exceptions.

Many women do not even know they’re pregnant before 8 weeks, and abortion restrictions disproportionately affect low income women.

Close to 70,000 women a year die from unsafe abortion and numerous others suffer grave injuries, including infection, hemorrhaging, and infertility. Half of all pregnancies in this country are unintended, and, of those, half end in abortion.

This bill would do nothing to reduce unintended pregnancies, which is what abortion reduction laws should focus on. According to the CDC:

  • In 2006, 49% of pregnancies were unintended—a slight increase from 48% in 2001.

  • Among women aged 19 years and younger, more than 4 out of 5 pregnancies were unintended.

  • The proportion of pregnancies that were unintended was highest among teens younger than age 15 years, at 98%.

  • Large increases in unintended pregnancy rates were found among women with lower education, low income, and cohabiting women.

The National Institutes of Health tells us there are several approaches that have been shown to be effective in reducing unintended pregnancies:

  • Ensure birth control and family planning is freely available to adolescents and adults

  • Sex education programs, which provide information on abstinence and contraceptive use and do NOT encourage the onset of sexual intercourse nor increase the frequency of intercourse among adolescents. (In fact, quite the opposite)

  • Expand Medicaid (as most other states have) so low-income mothers can have access to family planning  and prenatal care that helps prevent birth defects.

Medicaid is pro-life. Rejecting $6 billion of our own federal dollars isn’t making mothers or children any safer. We should join the majority of the country and expand medicaid now.

Rep. Jim cooper has a bill that would give us even less excuse for not doing it.

Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) responded to the Heartbeat bill by telling The Holler: “We need to trust women. It’s a rights issue. If you don’t allow a woman to make decisions about her own body, you don’t believe in equal rights.” Johnson continued, “We do not need the government in our doctors’ offices. It’s always one of those ‘small government’ guys who comes in with a bill to regulate women’s health care.” 

 

6 in 10 women say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Holler at Governor Lee or Van Huss or Casada to let them know what you think.

 

TN Republicans Introduce ALEC Bill To Hijack Senate Process

The latest proof Republicans don’t actually like democracy much comes to us in the form of a bill sponsored by Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) in the Senate and Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) in the House, SB 0027 and HB 0021 respectively, which would change the Senate nomination process, doing away with primaries and letting state legislatures appoint candidates instead.

Nicely has tried this before.

It’s a bill we’ve been warned about, brought to us by ALEC and the Koch Brothers, neither of which are big fans of letting the people have our say. Like voter suppression and gerrymandering, it’s yet another effort to minimize the influence of actual voters and concentrate power at the top.

As the infamously corrupt NYC politician Boss Tweed once said, “I don’t care who does the electing as long as I get to do the nominating.” 

This is nothing short of a repeal of the 17th amendment, which was enacted to “reduce corruption at the state level”.

The bill still lets the people vote in a general election (how nice of them!), but would have candidates for Senate nominated by the members of their respective Republican or Democrat party of the Tennessee House of Representatives and Tennessee Senate.

No independent or write-in candidates.

No other state has done this yet, but ALEC is trying. As Nicely dramatically told The Tennessee Star: “This bill could change everything. It could save the world.”

Why? Maybe because, as the Star also tells us:

In 2018 the National Constitution Center posed the question, “What would the Senate look like today without the 17th Amendment?

The simple answer, “It would probably be much more controlled by the Republicans.”

They’d clearly prefer to just repeal the 17th Amendment, but according to Mark Levin and the NCC that would be harder “Because of the idea that direct election gives the power to the people.” (yes what would give us that idea!)

The Niceley/Williams bill would go into effect November 30, 2019, impacting the 2020 U.S. Senate nomination process.

Holler at NICELY and WILLIAMS and let them know we prefer what’s left of our democracy to remain in our hands.

VIDEO: Students to Gov. Lee – “Remove KKK Grand Wizard Bust From Capital!”

Yesterday a group of students gathered at the capital to ask Governor Lee to remove the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a confederate general who also has the distinction of being the first ever KKK Grand Wizard.

Watch and Share the Video Here:

“We come in peace and love… we’re tired of being tired.” – Jeneisha Harris, TSU

The bust is featured prominently in the lobby outside the state legislature. The students are not the first to protest it, and they won’t be the last.

The young Tennesseans came from all over the state to make their voices heard, leaving letters expressing their feelings on the floor outside the Governor’s office and stopping to pray in front of the state troopers who stood guard outside the governor’s office

As Justin Jones of Vanderbilt Divinity School says, history isn’t just something we read about in history books, history is going on every day. If you agree with these brave kids and what they’re doing, HOLLER at Governor Lee HERE.

And please watch and share the video above, footage courtesy of WZTV.