Campfield demands and gets roll call vote on gay school bill

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Reaffirming what one Tennessee legislator called an election year stunt, Knoxville Representative Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) has demanded – and got – a roll call vote on earlier actions by Tennessee’s House Education K-12 Subcommittee.

The committee had voted by voice vote on Feb. 19 to refer HB2997 (proposed by Rep. Campfield that would prohibit discussion of homosexuality in elementary and middle schools) to the state Board of Education, effectively killing the bill.

Rep. Les Winningham, D-Huntsville, made the motion. Rep. Joe Towns, D-Memphis, who chairs the Subcommittee, declared the motion approved by voice vote. An outraged Campfield protested, saying that he had asked Chairman Towns to take a roll call vote. Towns refused to take a roll call and ended the discussion.

Towns has since reviewed the recorded tape of the bill debate, after being questioned by members about the motion made by Rep. Campfield calling for a roll call vote. Towns stood before House members today and said there was a misunderstanding about taking the roll call vote and asked that the rules be suspended to allow for a called meeting of K-12 subcommittee to get the vote on the record. After about 20 minutes of debate, it was decided the roll call vote would be taken in the regular meeting of K-12 Subcommittee next Tuesday, 10:30 a.m.

You can watch the original discussion between Campfield and Towns here on YouTube with video that was posted by Campfield – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss8bDi2wyU4 – The video has been edited and does not show the full meeting.

It was during the Feb. 19 Subcommittee meeting that Rep. Ulysses Jones, Jr., D- Memphis, repeatedly asked Campfield what prompted the legislation.

“Where did this come from? What school?” Jones asked.

Campfield said he had heard complaints from two sets of parents in two school systems in his district but had not verified them and therefore would not name the schools.

Jones retorted that Campfield’s proposal had “No substance, no background, no foundation.” 

“Where did this bill come from or is it just part of your re-election year legislation,” he asked. “Off the top of your head you came with nothing for this committee.”

Tennessee Equality Project President Christopher Sanders said that he has been told the Subcommittee meeting would not open up the bill again.

“My understanding is that this action does no open up the bill again,” Sanders said. “Current action on the bill of sending it to the State Department of Education for review stands.”

Campfield was invited to appear on Out & About Today TV and was scheduled to tape a segment on Monday, March 3, but has canceled his appearance, citing a conflict with a leadership seminar.