Tennessee Lawmakers Block Measure to Honor Gay Country Star TJ Osborne

Tennessee lawmakers have blocked a state measure that would honor Brothers Osborne member TJ Osborne, who came out as gay earlier this year. The bill passed unanimously in the state Senate on Tuesday but Rep. Jeremy Faison used his power as the House Republican Caucus to block the resolution.

"We have some concerns," he told the floor in footage of the hearing shared by The Tennessee Holler, though he did not specify what those concerns are. "It wasn’t heard in committee, and I feel like it needs to be." Faison did not cite Osborne's sexuality, but many people noted that the politician has backed anti-LGBTQ legislation in the past. A total of 63 representatives voted in favor of sending the measure back to a committee, which "has closed for the year," according to The Tennessee Holler.

Democratic legislator Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) responded with incredulity, pointing out that "A lot of [Senate Joint Resolutions] are not heard in committees and we vote on ’em. 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. C’mon."

The resolution, seen here, noted that while 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." It added that "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."

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Brothers Osborne's Twitter account pointed out that the state bestowed the honor on right-wing media personality Ben Shapiro, who does not live in Tennessee. The duo also invited Faison to lunch. "We've lived in this state for over half of our lives," their tweet read. "@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." Faison responded, "I would be honored to break bread with you," and Brothers Osborne, made up of TJ and his brother John Osborne, replied that they would message the lawmaker directly.

Multiple country artists responded to Faison's actions, including Kacey Musgraves, who tweeted, "Massively disappointed in TN House Republicans for blocking my friend @TJOsborne for being honored because HE’S GAY!?" Maren Morris, who collaborated with Brothers Osborne on her most recent album, posted a message of support for TJ on her Instagram Story that the musician re-shared, adding, "I wish I could say this didn't hurt, but it does."