by Dr. Bryan Terry
With regards to the idea that the Pastor Protection Act was drafted to divide the great people of Tennessee, it should be known that I had anticipated the Supreme Court would rule as it did for months.
In fact, last year I expected the federal court to strike down Tennessee’s constitutional amendment defining marriage. Over the course of around a year, I listened to the concerns, ideas and thoughts of constituents, gay or straight, on this particular issue. Being proactive, I chose to look at this particular piece of legislation because it had been passed elsewhere without much controversy.
Texas passed a similar piece of legislation this year with near unanimous support. No representatives in Texas actually voted against the bill, but there was one vote counted as “present not voting.”
Dr. Zerwas, a Texas state representative who is an anesthesiologist like myself, voted in the affirmative.
Openly lesbian Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D- El Paso, who co-sponsored the bill, commended the sponsor for carrying their Pastor Protection Act and said that she felt “LGBT justice and Religious Liberty could coexist.”
It is my hope that there will be respect for people, for liberties and that Rep. Gonzalez is correct in supporting this kind of legislation. Both sides of the Supreme Court decision agreed with the premise behind this proposed bill, as well. As such, when two individual liberties aren’t always in line, there should be an inherent respect in the law. Nothing in my intent should be construed as other than that.
Our speaker of the House, Beth Harwell, has appointed a point person for how our legislative body will address the ruling from the Supreme Court. I have spoken with Speaker Harwell, the point person, our attorney general, and the governor.
As Tennessee has numerous laws and rules impacted from the decision, we must address the issues from the Supreme Court ruling. I will be working on behalf of Distict 48 with all those involved to find solutions for Tennessee.
My bill and ideas have been given to our point person, along with the ideas of others, and will be thoroughly vetted. I am committed to letting this process work, as should others.
As I am about building a consensus and respect for the process the speaker has put in place, I will continue to seek solutions that protect religious liberty and work to protect the rights of all Tennesseans.
I look forward to continuing conversations with each of you about this important issue and hope you will all continue contacting me with your thoughts, concerns, ideas and suggestions as we work together to make Tennessee an even better place to live, work and raise a family.
State Rep. Bryan Terry represents the 48th District in the General Assembly.