Legislators Fight to Quash Subpoenas in Gay Discrimination Lawsuit



It’s the first skirmish in the lawsuit over the state law that overturned Nashville’s anti-gay bias ordinance. Luminaries of Tennessee's Christian Right are scurrying into Chancellor Carol McCoy’s courtroom Monday to try to quash subpoenas aimed at proving what everyone already knows to be true—that they concocted the state law and rammed it through the legislature to discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgender people.

For public consumption, the law’s advocates always have said as they innocently batted their eyes that they were only trying to stop new burdensome business regulations. But we never were fooled, were we?

Among those fighting subpoenas are three state lawmakers—Reps. Jim Gotto and Glen Casada and Sen. Mae Beavers—plus, Nashville car salesman Lee Beaman and David Fowler of the Tennessee Family Action Council.

The lawmakers are pressing the wild claim that the state constitution basically grants them near-blanket immunity from subpoenas, while the rest of the gang makes the less-lofty argument that they should be allowed to ignore the subpoenas because they are a big pain in the ass.

The subpoenas mainly seek documents related to a closed January meeting at the Southern Baptist Convention's LifeWay offices during which most of these fine people plotted strategy for nullifying Nashville’s ordinance.

Literature handed out at the meeting decried the “immorality” of homosexuality. According to media reports, one topic of discussion was “the advantage of framing the debate as a business issue rather than a moral, Christian one.”

Here’s another development: The state law that meeting produced is gaining national infamy.

In a recent brief urging a federal district court to strike down the federal defense of marriage act, the Justice Department cited Tennessee’s law as the most recent example of the “significant and regrettable” history of government-sponsored discrimination against gays and lesbians.

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