- The Magazine
The Log Cabin Republicans of Tennessee issued a press release mocking the outrage over the defeat of a resolution in the Tennessee legislature honoring country music singer TJ Osborne, of the group Brothers Osborne, after he recently came out as gay.
“Gay media is fainting with shock like Nathan Lane in The Bird Cage to discover that the Tennessee House did not fall over themselves to immediately pass SJR0609, honoring TJ Osborne of Brothers Osborne for coming out as gay. Zut alors! Someone bring the smelling salts,” the group wrote in a campy, cringe-inducing press release.
“Just so we’re clear: this wasn’t a resolution honoring Osborne’s career and gifts which got voted down because he is gay. It was a resolution honoring him for just…being gay,” the email reads. “Now, the resolution wasn’t heard in committee yet, so who knows what the tea is. Maybe Rep. Jeremy Faison — Tennessee House Republican Caucus Chair — had issues with the syrupy language about Osborne revealing ‘such an integral, heretofore muted part of his identity’ (cringe). Who’s to say–but just maybe a whole state legislature has better things to do than maunder on about ‘familiar faces who express resonant truths, making us feel the full spectrum of emotions’? This is America, not gender studies class.”
While Log Cabin may have had a problem with the way the resolution, offered by Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis), was worded, apparently not all Republicans did, as the measure was unanimously passed the Republican-controlled Senate before stalling in the House of Representatives.
The resolution was ultimately defeated after the aforementioned Rep. Faison objected to the resolution on the grounds it hadn’t been approved by a House committee beforehand. Faison called for the bill to be sent back to committee, a move that effectively killed the bill for the year, since committees are no longer meeting for the remainder of this year’s legislative session.
“Look, maybe Faison just thought coming out as gay isn’t newsworthy enough for a resolution. Maybe Osborne has other accomplishments to his name besides fondness for strong jawlines and a fabulous taste in drapery. And besides, none of us got resolutions when we came out — and we were a lot younger than Osborne. Don’t expect rainbow confetti and a ticker tape parade just for liking boys, hunty. Shut up and sing,” Log Cabin of Tennessee wrote in their painfully awkward email.
The group also ridiculed Akbari for authoring the resolution, noting that Osborne is not the first country star to come out as gay. It also mocked the Brothers Osborne for tweeting an invitation to Faison to go to lunch, and for pointing out that Faison honored Ben Shapiro, a conservative commentator who doesn’t even live in Tennessee, with a separate resolution.
“In his interview with TIME this year, Osborne said ‘People will ask, “Why does this even need to be talked about?” and personally, I agree with that.’ Then girl, whatchu crying over? We heard you’re having a lunch kiki with Rep. Faison. Can’t blame you; he’s a total Daddy. But in the meantime we’ll set up brunch with our girls and find out if they’d pass a resolution that’s a little less sappy and…gay.”
Aside from its press release, which read like it was written by a straight person after watching one episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the gay Republican group has also used its public platform to speak out against a measure recently approved by lawmakers that has been labeled the “Business Bathroom Bill” or “Bathroom Bill 2.0” by critics.
The bill, as passed, would require businesses that allow transgender customers to use restrooms matching their gender identity to post bright yellow and red signs informing customers that “This facility maintains a policy of allowing the use of restrooms by either biological sex, regardless of the designation on the restroom.”
Some business owners object to the idea that they are being required to install signage — at personal cost — to comply with what seems like a burdensome mandate from the Tennessee General Assembly. Others believe its a ham-handed attempt to “shame” businesses that are accommodating to transgender customers, based on the assumption that “outing” such establishments will cost them business from customers who oppose homosexuality or transgenderism.
However, Micahel Shemtov, the proprietor of two Nashville-based restaurants, previously told Metro Weekly that most of his customers are either supportive of transgender rights, or at least apathetic about it to the point that it would not cost his restaurants a significant amount of business.
“Generally, I don’t think we should be fighting culture wars in politics, and definitely not in restaurants, but if pushed to stand by our opinions, our values, I’d rather have less business and know that we support what we believe in than compromise our values to be more hospitable to homophobic or transphobic people,” Shemtov said.
In a sober, serious op-ed, published in The Tennessean, Joshua Herr, the chairman of the Log Cabin Republicans argued against the “Business Bathroom Bill,” attempting to cast it as a form of government overreach and calling the measure “misguided.”
In the op-ed, Herr first establishes Log Cabin’s conservative bona fides, noting that the group often provokes the ire or derision of LGBTQ left-leaning activists for its opposition to “radical gender theory,” or legislation like the Equality Act. He notes that the group supported a bill, recently signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee (R), that bars transgender student-athletes from competing in sports based on their gender identity.
“If we oppose a Republican LGBT bill, it is out of principle, not identity politics or blind devotion to those in the LGBT ‘community’ who reject us,” writes Herr. “We were not asked to comment on the bill before it was passed, but we feel we would be remiss not to offer our perspective.
“We believe this bill is flawed for two reasons. First, as conservatives who believe in liberty and in supporting small businesses, we do not think that government should single out businesses for special public censure if they do not enforce the government’s current social views,” he writes. “Americans are still sorting out how they feel about trans people and how they can be tolerant or hospitable neighbors even if they disagree. Government should not use private businesses as pawns in an ongoing culture war, especially with something as private as their customers’ genitalia.”
Herr also argues that the bill is counterproductive to achieving the aims of its most vocal proponents.
“Parents want to make sure their kids are safe — this is a completely reasonable concern. But forcing trans women to use the same restroom as young boys can be more disturbing and disruptive to businesses,” he writes. “Dads: imagine walking into the men’s room with your son and seeing Caitlyn Jenner, in a dress, fixing her makeup.
“More disturbing still is when trans men who are far along in their transition — people who look, act, and identify as male — must use the same restroom as young girls,” he continues. “Moms: imagine walking into the ladies’ room with your daughter and seeing someone with a beard, deep voice, and men’s clothes who urinates standing up. Does this feel safer than if that person had used the men’s room? Of course not. But that is what this bill incentivizes.”
Herr also acknowledges the fear some people have that pro-trans restroom policies will facilitate sexual assault, but argues that the data does not provide any evidence that transgender women in Tennessee pose a risk to cisgender women in restrooms.
“The bathroom issue requires both care and prudence. The best solutions will be arrived at freely by citizens within their communities, not imposed from the top via blanket legislation,” Herr writes. “[The bill] might be more defensible if it only applied to government restrooms. But by extending the mandate to privately-owned businesses, it tries to shame businesses who choose, out of respect for customers’ privacy, to let trans customers use their restroom of choice.
“Tennessee businesses should be allowed to work through their own views without government bullying and public labeling,” he concludes. “For that reason, we encourage Governor Lee to veto HB1182/SB1224.”
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!