State Rep. Shipley says anti-gay zingers were taken out of context

A Tennessee lawmaker has been flagged as a bigot in a political blog after he allegedly made several anti-gay statements.

State Representative Tony Shipley was quoted on OpenPen on March 13 in a blog that had jaws dropping throughout the GLBT community. Shipley today told O&AN and Jenny Ford, a lobbyist for the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), that the quotations were taken out of context.

A lobbyist writing under the name Desoto quoted Shipley as saying, ”They can do whatever they want out in California, with gays passing babies around, and violating God’s law, but when God drops California off into the sea, they will have to deal with the consequences of their actions.”

Desoto posted the blog after spending two days in Nashville last weekend lobbying on behalf of children's issues. For her final meeting of the weekend, Desoto spoke with Shipley for about an hour. She said the conversation became frustrating when a bill to ban adoption rights for unmarried, cohabiting couples (SB0078 by Senator Paul Stanley) came up in their discussion.

In the blog, Desoto also reported that Shipley said, ”That [gays adopting] ain’t gonna fly-I’m sorry, I’m a Southern Baptist, I’m a Christian," and "If they [the "secular progressives"] keep pushing and pushing and pushing-they’re pushing us too far, and something will happen-just like we did in 1860." Tennessee

TEP President Christopher Sanders said that statement emphasizes the importance fighting for equality in Tennessee.

"Emotions run high in the adoption debate, which makes it difficult at times to remain focused on the goal of persuading legislators to support fairness over discrimination. But that's our job," Sanders said. "We have to use these opportunities to find out what lawmakers are really thinking and make our case. I believe that the discussion is allowing us to do that."

In the blog, Desoto wrote, "I did (calmly and politely) tell Mr. Shipley that I had been working in the Sullivan County juvenile courts for seven years with a steady supply of straight people abusing and neglecting their kids, and that therefore obviously the ability to raise children in safe, loving homes had nothing to do with sexual orientation. His response: “That’s a good point, but that ain’t gonna fly. You’ve got my support on [opposing this bill] except for the gays."

The anonymous blogger told the Nashville Scene that she could not reveal her identity for fear of losing her job.  "I can only assume that since he made these comments to me having never met me before, he would not mind having others hear them; I can only assume that he has the courage of his convictions," she wrote in the blog.

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