Music

Tennessee Lawmakers Block Resolution to Honor Openly Gay Country Artist TJ Osborne

Amy Harris/Invision/AP

A measure to honor Brothers Osborne singer TJ Osborne for coming out as gay in February was blocked on Tuesday (May 4) by Republican lawmakers in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

SJR (Senate Joint Resolution) 609 was introduced on April 19 by Senator Raumesh Akbari of Memphis.

"Though T.J. Osborne is not the first country music artist to come out as gay, he is the first and currently only openly gay artist signed to a major country music label [EMI Nashville]; though it may have merely been a consequence of being true to himself, he has nonetheless become a trailblazer and a symbol of hope for those country music artists and fans alike who may have felt ostracized from a genre they hold dear," reads the resolution.

The state Senate passed the resolution unanimously.

Rep. Jeremy Faison, chair of the House Republican Caucus, blocked the resolution, citing a procedural objection.

"We have some concerns on this SJR, and I'd like to send it back to naming and designating," Faison said from the House floor, adding that "the source of those concerns" was that "it wasn't heard in committee, and I feel like it needs to be."

Rep. Antonio Parkinson, a Democrat from Tennessee, questioned the legitimacy of sending the resolution to a committee that's already adjourned for this legislative session, which ends on Friday (May 7).

"A lot of SJRs are not heard in committees and we vote on them," Parkinson said. "We voted on a couple of them today, as a matter of fact. ... The country music artist, TJ Osborne? We're talking about a country music singer, y'all. Come on."

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A motion to send the resolution to a committee passed 63-23, but based on time restrictions, it's off the table for the current legislative session.

The pushback online to Faison's opposition began with political account The Tennessee Holler writing that the resolution was effectively killed for "no reason other than blatant bigotry and spite."

The Brothers Osborne retweeted The Tennessee Holler with an invitation for Faison (which has since been accepted).

"We've lived in this state for over half of our lives," the duo tweeted. "@JeremyFaison4TN honored Ben Shapiro who doesn't even live here. Jeremy, let's have lunch one day. On us. Would really like to know more about you as a person."

Osborne Brothers collaborator Maren Morris retweeted The Tennessee Holler, while Kacey Musgraves joined the progressive account in slamming legislators.

"Massively disappointed in TN House Republicans for blocking my friend @TJOsborne for being honored because HE'S GAY!?," Musgraves wrote.

The decision follows an April open letter from over 40 businesses associated with the music industry in Nashville which asked Tennessee lawmakers to halt anti-LGBTQ legislation that "would codify discrimination."

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Tennessee Lawmakers Block Resolution to Honor Openly Gay Country Artist TJ Osborne