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Tennessee GOP Blocks Honor of Gay Country Star T.J. Osborne

TJ Osbourne

The move sparked backlash from fellow country stars Kacey Musgraves and Maren Morris.


After sailing through the Tennessee Senate with unanimous approval, a resolution that sought to honor gay country star T.J. Osborne was blocked by Republicans in the state's House of Representatives.

The measure lauding the Brothers Osborne singer, who came out in a February Time interview, as a "trailblazer" in a historically homophobic music genre was stymied by Rep. Jeremy Faison, chair of the House Republican Caucus. As justification, the conservative cited a procedural objection during the Tuesday House vote on Senate Joint Resolution 609, reports Variety.

"We have some concerns on this SJR, and I'd like to send it back to naming and designating," Faison said about the resolution in a clip posted to social media by the Tennessee Holler, a progressive account. The move effectively killed the resolution as the referenced committee will not meet again this year.

Faison's motion received pushback from Rep. Antonio Parkinson, a Democrat, who noted its unusual nature. "A lot of SJRs are not heard in committees and we vote on 'em. We voted on a couple of them today, as a matter of fact," he said, adding, "The country music artist, T.J. Osborne? We're talking about a country music singer, y'all. C'mon." Right-wing media figures like non-Tennessee resident Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, and Tomi Lahren have received similar honors without incident, Tennessee Holler noted in its caption.

Faison's history of supporting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, such as a recent transgender athlete ban, has critics accusing him of antigay motives. "Massively disappointed in TN House Republicans for blocking my friend @TJOsborne for being honored because HE'S GAY!?" tweeted Kacey Musgraves, a country musician and LGBTQ+ ally.

Maren Morris retweeted the post from the Tennessee Holler, which declared the blocking occurred "for no reason other than blatant bigotry and spite. It passed the senate 30-0. So much hate in our state."

The language of SJR 609 states that "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 declares him to be "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."

After Faison blocked SJR 609, the Brothers Osborne Twitter account noted the injustice but also extended an olive branch to the Republican. "Jeremy, let's have lunch one day. On us. Would really like to know more about you as a person," the account stated. To which Faison replied, "I would be honored to break bread with you."

In addition to the blocked measure, there are numerous other topics Osborne and Faison could review, such as three anti-transgender bills recently sent to the state's governor. Tennessee routinely makes headlines for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, including a bill signed by Gov. Bill Lee in 2020 that allowed faith-based adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples without a loss of public funding. This year, Lee has signed the trans athlete ban into law as well as, just this week, one requiring public schools to give parents notice of any lessons that discuss sexual orientation or gender identity and opt their children out of them without repercussions.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.