The same state senate that last year was pushing the "Don't Say Gay" bill is this year pushing what can be called the "Do Say Pervert" bill.
I'm talking about Tennessee, where the GOP senate last year became a national laughing stock -- with Sen. Stacey Campfield at the center of it all -- passing a bill that would ban discussion by educators of homosexuality in kindergarten through ninth grade. Campfield had pushed the "Don't Say Gay" bill for years, but finally got it out of committee in 2011. I had Campfield on my radio program back in 2009. We talked about the "Don't Say Gay" bill and a few other things, including his bill that would mandate death certificates for aborted fetuses (he hadn't figured what to do about embryos) and how he (a white man) tried to join the Black Legislative Caucus and compared it to the KKK when he was turned away.
Though the "Don't Say Gay" bill passed the senate it stalled in the house last year. We may see it again this year. Now, senate Republicans are proposing a change to the state's anti-bullying law to exempt condemnations of homosexuality based on religion. The outrageous hypocrisy here is that the antigay zealots -- including former GOP state senator David Fowler, now president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, which is spearheading this effort -- are crying censorship, saying it's a free-speech issue. Yet these are the same people who wanted to stop any discussion of homosexuality in schools.
The bill would allow students to express their religious views about homosexuality as long as they don't make threats or engage in any violent act. So, if a student calls another a "faggot," that's bullying. But if he or she quotes the Bible and says, homosexuality is an abomination and punishable by death," that would seem to be perfectly fine. I don't what the difference is: All hatred of LGBT people and all antigay slurs are based, at core, on religious condemnations of homosexuality. If not for religion would there be any homophobia in society?
"What if one student calls another one a sinner, or a sodomite or says you're perverted or you're unnatural or you are going to hell. That's where it gets really dicey," Chris Sanders, with the Tennessee Equality Project, told a local TV station.
Fowler claims that the anti-bullying law creates "special classes of people who are more important than others." But that is ridiculous. Anti-bullying laws protect all students, including Christian students, from being harassed because of who they are. This is just another example of the new strategy of the Christian right, claiming they are the victims as they seek special privileges to push pure and unadulterated hate.