Tearin' Osborne

Tennessee Republicans just declared war on TJ Osborne

TJ Osborne

Republican lawmakers in the Tennessee state legislature have blocked a resolution to honor TJ Osborne, the country music singer of the Brothers Osborne, who came out as gay earlier this year.

NBC reports that Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 609 would have commemorated Osborne, noting “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 label.” It further adds that “though it may have been merely 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 become ostracized from a genre they hold dear.”

Related: Country crooner TJ Osborne on the unexpected response to his coming out

SJR 609 had already passed the Tennessee Senate by a unanimous vote before coming up against a roadblock in the state House. Rep. Jeremy Faison, chair of the House Republican Caucus, blocked the measure. Faison has a long history of sponsoring legislation designed to attack LGBTQ people.

“We have some concerns on this SJR, and I’d like to send it back to naming and designating,” Faison said of his actions. “It wasn’t heard in committee, and I feel like it needs to be.”

The Brothers Osborne, for their part, expressed their confoundment at Faison’s move.

“We’ve lived in this state for over half of our lives,” the Brothers Osborne said in a tweet. “@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.”

Other country music singers also weighed in on the stalling of SJR 609.

“@JeremyFaison4TN and the @tnhousegop block a resolution to honor out gay country music star TJ Osborne of the @brothersosborne for no reason other than blatant bigotry and spite,” said singer Maren Morris (the tweet appears to have been since deleted). “It passed the senate 30-0. So much hate in our state.”

“Massively disappointed in TN House Republicans for blocking my friend @TJOsborne for being honored because HE’S GAY!?,” echoed singer Kasey Musgraves.

The move is just the latest in a long history of anti-LGBTQ legislative tactics by Jeremy Faison. In 2012, he notoriously declared that suicides among queer youth are not a result of bullying, but of the youth lacking “proper principles.”

“We’ve had some horrible things happen in America and in our state, and there’s children that have actually committed suicide, but I will submit to you today that they did not commit suicide because of somebody bullying them,” Faison said. “They committed suicide because they were not instilled the proper principles of where their self-esteem came from at home.”

In 2019, Faison also supported a bill that would allow adoption agencies to deny service to same-sex couples.

As a state, Tennessee has increasingly targeted the rights of LGBTQ people as well. Last month, the state House passed a bill that would require transgender-friendly businesses to post signs warning patrons of their bathroom policies. In March, Gov. Bill Lee signed into law a bill banning transgender youth from competing on sports teams in accordance with their gender identity. Republicans in the state have also introduced bills to ban teachers from teaching LGBTQ history.