Controversial Senate Bill 2566 effectively killed in committee - WSMV News 4

Controversial Senate Bill 2566 effectively killed in committee

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A controversial piece of legislation that sought to protect businesses and organizations in Tennessee from lawsuits if they refuse to provide services to same-sex couples won't move forward this session.

The measure sponsored by State Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, was withdrawn from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Under Senate Bill 2566, a person or group wouldn't have to provide services for a domestic partnership or marriage not recognized by the state if doing so would violate their religious beliefs. Tennessee does not recognize same-sex marriages.

Bell reiterated that the legislation was intended to protect shop owners in Tennessee, noting that those in other states have been sued for refusing to do business.

Opponents said the language of the proposal was not only too broad, but it also basically condoned discrimination in the name of religious freedom.

State Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, who withdrew his sponsorship of the bill last week, released a statement prior to the bill being placed in the general subcommittee, effectively killing it:

"The text of the Religious Freedom Act never allowed a restaurant or hospital to refuse service to anyone. I would never introduce legislation that attempts to limit the civil rights of any Tennessean, whether straight or gay. The bill was designed to protect a pastor, rabbi, or singer from being sued and forced to participate in a same-sex ceremony against their will."

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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