WATCH Senator Paul Rose’s bill to permit taxpayer-funded discrimination pass the Senate, making TN a less welcoming place that doesn’t put the best interests of kids first.

Governor Lee will sign it despite having an LGBT sibling. ?️‍?

Governor Lee To Sign Anti-LGBT Adoption Bill That Targets His Own Sister

You’ve probably heard that yesterday the TN Senate started off the legislative session by passing a bill which targets LGBT people and allows state-supported adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT people.

The bill will now head to Governor Lee’s desk, and Lee has said he will sign it.

What you may not know is Governor Lee’s own sister is married to a woman, and therefore is a part of the LGBT community targeted by his party’s bill.

Here’s @ScoopNashville’s tweet about Cynthia Lee’s wedding:

And here’s Cynthia Lee with Bill’s wife Maria outside his campaign headquarters in Franklin:

Tennessee is #1 in medical bankruptcies, #2 in rural hospital closures, gets an “F” in education funding, and has the maternal mortality rate of a third world country… yet this is what the TN GOP and Bill Lee are focused on?

Here’s how they voted — GREEN means they voted for the bill. Red against.

Cynthia and her wife deserve to be treated just like everyone else in America, and should not be targeted and made to feel less than by our laws.

This adoption bill is especially ugly because it would have the effect of robbing loving homes from children who might otherwise not be able to find one.

If you agree Governor Lee should VETO THIS BILL, Holler at him HERE.


Anti-LGBTQ Adoption “License to Discriminate” Bill Passes TN House

A proposal to allow agencies to deny service to LGBTQ Tennesseans seeking to adopt a child passed the House of Representatives 67-22.

If enacted, House Bill 836 would permit private child-placing agencies to deny any person seeking to foster or adopt a child if the placement would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions.”

Watch the Floor debate highlights HERE:

The bill—sponsored by Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, District 34, and co-sponsored by Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, District 33—passed the full House on April 1.

Democrats Rep. Bo Mitchell and Rep. John Ray Clemmons spoke out in opposition to the bill, questioning why we would deny any loving family the right to adopt if they so desired in light of the fact that 8000 children are currently in need of homes.

Mitchell questioned whether Jews could be denied adoption by certain agencies, to which Rudd responded:

“I have no idea.”

Mitchell said we’re on a “slippery slope”, and Clemmons said “we have gone too far” when it comes to discrimination.

Rep. Jeremy Faison was the loudest Republican in support, attempting to seize the mantle of “tolerance” and saying that “liberals” should be willing to extend the same tolerance to the intolerance of those agencies.

The question becomes: Is tolerance of intolerance actually tolerance? Or is it more intolerance? Is in “intolerant” to not want to “tolerate” bullying? Where do we draw that line?

The Tennessee Equality Project says the bill allows agencies to discriminate because LGBTQ citizens are not a “protected class” under federal law.

There are more than 8,000 children in the care of the Department of Children Services. The department works with a network of adoption agencies to find foster care and permanent homes for the children in state custody. Under the rules of the bill, DCS could not deny an agency’s license or service contract for discriminatory practices against LGBTQ families.


How they voted: House Bill 836
Representatives voting to allow adoption agencies to deny adoptions to LGBTQ Tennesseans for “religious or moral” reasons:
Rep. Charlie Baum, R-Murfreesboro, District 37
Rep. Clark Boyd, R-Lebanon, District 46
Rep. Rush Bricken, R-Tullahoma, District 47
Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, District 71
Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston, District 32
Rep. Dale Carr, R-Sevierville, District 12
Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, District 29
Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, District 64
Rep. Mark Cochran, R-Englewood, District 23
Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, District 97
Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, District 69
Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, District 18
Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, District 16
Rep. Rick Eldridge, R-Morristown, District 10
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, District 11
Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, District 17
Rep. Ron Gant, R-Rossville, District 94
Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, District 45
Rep. Bruce Griffey, R-Paris, District 75
Rep. Curtis Halford, R-Dyer, District 79
Rep. Mark Hall, R-Cleveland, District 24
Rep. Kirk Haston, R-Lobelville, District 72
Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, District 5
Rep. Patsy Hazelwood, R-Signal Mountain, District 27
Rep. Esther Helton, R-East Ridge, District 30
Rep. Gary Hicks, R-Rogersville, District 9
Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, District 7
Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, District 3
Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, District 76
Rep. Dan Howell, R-Cleveland, District 22
Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport, District 2
Rep. Chris Hurt, R-Halls, District 82
Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, District 68
Rep. Kelly Keisling, R-Byrdstown, District 38
Rep. Sabi Kumar, R-Springfield, District 66
Rep. Justin Lafferty, R-Knoxville, District 89
Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland, District 44
Rep. Tom Leatherwood, R-Arlington, District 99
Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson, District 78
Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, District 57
Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, District 62
Rep. Debra Moody, R-Covington, District 81
Rep. Jerome Moon, R-Maryville, District 8
Rep. Brandon Ogles, R-Franklin, District 61
Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, District 36
Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, District 33
Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, District 20
Rep. Jay Reedy, R-Erin, District 74
Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, District 34
Rep. Lowell Russell, R-Vonore, District 21
Rep. Bill Sanderson, R-Kenton, District 77
Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, District 35
Rep. Paul Sherrell, R-Sparta, District 43
Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, District 26
Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, District 49
Rep. Bryan Terry, R-Murfreesboro, District 48
Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisberg, District 92
Rep. Chris Todd, R-Jackson, District 73
Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, District 31
Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Gray, District 6
Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, District 40
Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, District 83
Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, District 42
Rep. Dave Wright, R-Corryton, District 19
Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, District 14
Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin, District 63

Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, District 41

Representatives voting No against the bill:
Rep. Bill Beck, D-Nashville, District 51
Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis, District 87
Rep. Jesse Chism, D-Memphis, District 85
Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, District 55
Rep. Barbara Cooper, D-Memphis, District 86
Rep. Vincent Dixie, D-Nashville, District 54
Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Nashville, District 56
Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, D-Chattanooga, District 28
Rep. G. A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, District 93
Rep. Jason Hodges, D-Clarksville, District 67
Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Old Hickory, District 60
Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, District 13
Rep. London Lamar, D-Memphis, District 91
Rep. Harold Love, Jr., D-Nashville, District 58
Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, District 88
Rep. Bo Mitchell, D-Nashville, District 50
Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, District 98
Rep. Jason Potts, D-Nashville, District 59
Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, District 53
Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, District 80
Rep. Rick Staples, D-Knoxville, District 15
Rep. Joe Towns, Jr., D-Memphis, District 84

Representatives Present, Not Voting
Rep. Clay Doggett, R-Pulaski, District 70
Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, District 39
Rep. Dwayne Thompson, D-Cordova, District 96

Absent or Missed Vote:
Rep. John Crawford, R-Kingsport, District 1
Rep. John Holsclaw, Jr., R-Elizabethton, District 4
Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, District 25
Rep. Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville, District 95
Rep. Sam Whitson, R-Franklin, District 65

Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis, District 90
Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, District 52

Did Rep. Doggett Vote For The Anti-LGBT Adoption Bill Without Knowing What Was In It?

This week the Tennessee House Judiciary Committee voted to advance HB 836 (SB 1304), a bill that would create a license to discriminate in child welfare services, to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Anti-equality lawmakers have also introduced another discriminatory child welfare bill, HB 1152 (SB 848), that has not yet advanced from committee. HB 836 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday March 26th. According to the Human Rights Campaign:

“If passed, these bills would allow state contractors who provide taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care services to refuse to make child placements with qualified, loving families if the family doesn’t share all of the agency’s religious beliefs. Under these proposals state-licensed child-placing agencies would be allowed to disregard the best interest of children and turn away qualified Tennesseans seeking to care for a child in need.

This would include LGBTQ couples, interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced or other parents to whom the agency has a religious objection.”

Apparently this is confusing to some legislators.

Jessica Yokley, a Lawrence County resident who ran against Doggett in 2018, posted on Facebook that she spoke with Rep. Clay Doggett (R-Lawrenceburg) yesterday, who seemed to not understand that the bill would allow adoption agencies in receipt of taxpayer funds to discriminate without fear of losing government contracts.

From Yokley’s post:

“Rep. Doggett called me yesterday. He stated his support of this bill was related to business owners having liberty and that this bill does not apply to entities who use tax dollars which is why he supported it. Rep. Doggett said he would not support the bill if it included entities who receive tax dollars or facilitate adoptions for children in state custody. He has already voted for the bill in Judiciary Committee. The fact is, not only does the bill NOT EXCLUDE entities who take tax dollars, it specifically allows the organizations to receive them!

You can read this for yourself in Paragraph C of the bill below. I have also sent this to Rep. Doggett so that he can see I am speaking the truth.”

Yokley then includes the text of the bill in her post, which you can read in its entirety here.

In the comments underneath the post, another Lawrence County resident posts an excerpt of her exchange with Doggett in which he says he’s “looking into it”… which is concerning since he already voted FOR the bill in committee.

This begs the question – how many other bills is Doggett voting on without understanding? And how many other Tennessee legislators are voting to allow discrimination with taxpayer dollars without even knowing that’s what they’re doing?

Whether or not you agree with the policy, we should all be able to agree that voting on a bill without understanding the fundamentals of what’s in it is a problem. Lawrence County residents are well within their rights to ask Doggett how that could be the case.

To hear more about the bill and why it’s “bad for kids”, watch our video from last week HERE, or check out this other post from Yokley, an adoptive parent herself, which initially called out Doggett and started their dialogue, including:

“How dare you risk a child’s chance at a stable home.”

And here’s more on the ramifications of the bill from HRC:

Preliminary findings from HRC and Clark University’s National Foster Care and Adoption survey found that:

  • Eighty-eight percent of LGBTQ people living in Tennessee are considering welcoming a child into their home via adoption or foster care in the future;
  • Further, 92 percent fear they will be discriminated against because they are LGBTQ while pursuing adoption or foster care;
  • Eighty percent have potential concerns about finding an LGBTQ-inclusive adoption or foster care agency in their city; and
  • Sixty-seven percent would be less likely to pursue adoption and foster care if a law allowing state-sanctioned discrimination was on the books in Tennessee.

These statistics are alarming, especially when the Tennessee legislature continues to push these harmful bills that ultimately lessen the pool of qualified foster and adoptive parents. Children should not be forced to age out of foster care without a family connection, or wait indefinitely in foster care when qualified families are ready to adopt or foster the child. This legislation exacerbates the problem and leaves more and more children waiting for forever homes.

If you agree that this bill is bad for kids, holler at Doggett or your reps.

The Holler has reached out to Doggett for comment.

“Bad For kids” Anti-LGBT Adoption Bill Passes Committee

‘Religious or moral convictions’ will shield agencies that discriminate

There are about 8,000 children in Tennessee in foster care or available for full adoption.

Under a new law, private agencies working with the state could deny these children a home with a same-sex couple or any LGBTQ Tennessean.

Under House Bill 836, private child-placing agencies could deny any person seeking to foster or adopt a child if the placement would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions.”

The legislation also ties the hands of the Department of Children Services, which works with a network of private adoption agencies to find homes for the children in state custody. Under the rules of the bill, DCS could not deny an agency’s license or service contract for discriminatory practices against LGBTQ families.

The bill—sponsored by Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, District 34, and co-sponsored by Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, District 33—passed the committee on a voice vote with only Rep. Jason Potts, D-Nashville, voicing opposition. Members of the House Judiciary Committee will hear the bill next week.

Stacie Odeneal—an attorney in Lawrence County, the immediate past chair of the Tennessee Bar Association’s section on juvenile law, a child welfare law specialist and an adoptive parent and foster parent—appeared at the House Children & Families Subcommittee meeting to speak against the bill.

“I’m here to tell you this bill is bad for three reasons: One, it’s bad for kids; it’s bad for business; and three, it creates a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist right now,” Odeneal said. “It’s bad for kids because it eliminates options. Right now we have about 8,000 children in foster care—about half of those don’t have stable homes.”


Odeneal explained that similar laws were currently being argued in federal court and cited a situation in Pennsylvania where a private adoption agency on a government contract denied an adoption to same-sex couple.

“When we allow people to discriminate; when we tell them ‘you’re welcome here to do business, but you’re not welcome to have a family;’ when we tell children ‘you don’t deserve a home;’ we’re hurting them,” Odeneal said. “This does nothing but protect business interests, what we need to do is protect children. We need to give them all the opportunities.”

How they voted:
House Children & Families Subcommittee, March 12; voted Aye in support:
Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson, District 78
Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, District 69
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, District 11
Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, District 68
Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, District 39

Voted No against the bill:
Rep. Jason Potts, D-Nashville, District 59