‘Bathroom bill’ news conference stopped by protesters

A press conference State Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, and Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, was first disrupted by protesters, then cancelled on Wednesday afternoon. Some of the protesters then followed the legislators into a Legislative Plaza hallway, confronting them with slogans and critical commentary, until Beavers and Pody were escorted from the Plaza by state troopers.

The Wilson County lawmakers had announced in an email to media they would “discuss HB888/SB771 (Bathroom Bill) and HB892/SB752 (Defense of Natural Marriage Act)” at the news conference.

The “bathroom bill” would requires transgender persons to use the rest room designated for their birth gender. The “Defense of Natural Marriage Act, according to the summary on the legislative website, “states the policy of Tennessee to defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary.” Both are sponsored by  Beavers and Pody.

About 100 protesters filled the seats in a House committee hearing before Pody and  Beavers arrived and sat quietly, bearing signs such as ‘Flush the bathroom bill” and “No hate in out state.” When the legislators walked in, Pody began reading a statement – starting by quoting a 2006 state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

But protesters in the crowd then began shouting things such as “Pull the bill” and “You’re wasting taxpayer money.” The legislators then left the room. Reporters followed, but so did perhaps 15 or 20 of the protesters, continuing to confront the legislators, who offered no comment.

“Are you legislating from the Bible, sir, or are you legislating from the constitution?” said one man, loudly, to Pody.

Highway Patrol officers, including Col. Tracy Trott, escorted Pody and Beavers separately to an elevator they could take to their cars in the Plaza parking garage.

Note: For more quotes and commentary, see Cari Wade Gervin’s report HERE.

8 Responses to ‘Bathroom bill’ news conference stopped by protesters

  • Bob Miles says:

    The TGA is going to have to get a handle on this and stop it. Any group or individuals that disrupts the proceedings should be escorted out, not the legislators.

  • STUART says:

    These fanatics should not be allowed to badger our elected legislators in the legislature. It’s time for legislation that bars and, if necessary, jails anyone interfering with legislators carrying on their duties in the legislature.

  • Betty Sands says:

    The TGA is going to have to stop proposing blatantly unconstitional bills that do nothing but saddle the taxpayers with legal bills. Focus on Constitutional issues that matter!

    • STUART says:

      There is nothing in any constitution that gives the federal government the power to withhold funds from local governments that seek to protect citizens from mentally disturbed individuals. Indeed it is a fundamental constitutional duty of local governments to afford just such protection so I can think of no more important “constitutional issue” that should concern the Tennessee legislature.

  • Cannoneer2 says:

    That’s right, Bob, if we’re going to waste Tennessee’s time and money on nonsense bills like this, by all means let the dog and pony show continue! If this sort of thing is the priority in state government, don’t ask for another penny from me!

  • Cannoneer2 says:

    I remember the anti income tax protests a decade or two ago. The Capitol was ringed with angry protesters, and one of the building’s windows even got broken in the process. These people were viewed as heroes by many of the same people who are appalled at today’s proceedings. As the old saying goes, it’s all fun and games until your own ox gets gored.

    • STUART says:

      As I recall, “The Capital was ringed” but news conferences and proceedings of the legislature weren’t disturbed inside The Capital. That’s the difference between people who respect the functioning of a democracy and authoritarians whose temperament makes them so incompatible with democracy.

  • David A. Collins says:

    With these two bills, the republicans can never again aver that they are the “taxpayers watchdog” for wasteful spending. The bathroom bill will result (like it has elsewhere its been enacted) with a loss of revenue from groups and businesses boycotting Tennessee because of it. Who’s going to take up the slack on lost taxes? Yeah that’s right, the taxpayer. And the so called “defense of marriage bill” requiring our AG to fight a losing battle over and over again? Where does the money to fund the AG’s office come from? The taxpayers! And who will be paying all the expenses for “tilting at these windmills” (losing side normally saddled with all costs of the case), again the Taxpayer. So button it on claiming you are protecting my pocketbook!

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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