FRANKLIN, TENNESSEE — Well over 100 Tennessee residents flooded the city of Franklin late Tuesday afternoon ahead of a city board meeting over approval of a gay Pride festival.
In a vote of 5-4, the Franklin city board voted to allow a Pride festival to proceed after a marathon board meeting that lasted nearly five hours. The board was split with a vote of 4-4, but Franklin Mayor Ken Moore cast the deciding vote even after acknowledging that the event last year was not family-friendly. His decision was met with cheers from outside the board room.
For the past two years, Franklin, a city just south of Nashville, has hosted a Pride festival, which residents and city board members say has exposed children to inappropriate drag performances and other indecencies. One drag queen present at the 2022 festival went by the name “Blair Bitch.”
Dozens of people crammed into a small hearing room with a good number of individuals wearing stickers that read “protect all children,” while others wore rainbow-themed shirts. At the meeting, which lasted well over four hours, with two hours of public comment, the board reached its decision to approve.
With over 100 public commenters, roughly 65% were from people opposed to granting the permit to Franklin Pride for the festival.
Many commenters voiced their opposition to have children present at an event celebrating sexuality. One commenter asked if the board wanted “sex on display” while another woman who said she was with the group “Gays against Groomers” noted that pride events were “sexualized” by nature.
One student from Spring Hill, who said that she identified as transgender, claimed that trans-identifying people were being “hunted on a national level.”
“If you think they are not sexualizing children you would be incorrect,” said Jay Frier, a local resident who has organized opposition to the festival, during public comment on the festival. After the decision, Frier told The Daily Wire that the board had “capitulated to fear.”
In an interview before the event, he said that it was time to stand up to the Left-wing agenda that was trying to introduce children to radical gender ideology. “At some point, this agenda is just not tolerant itself. If you don’t believe the way they do, they are going to crush you. We won’t be crushed.”
Frier organized a petition with over 2,300 signatures to ask the city board to reject the permit application and wrote a letter to the board asking them to protect Tennessee children.
One local who has lived in Franklin since the 1990s said he attended the meeting to see how things played out. He said he wished that people who moved from blue states would leave their politics behind.
The controversy has been brewing since Franklin Pride began efforts to receive a permit to host a Pride festival this year, after last year’s show featured a drag performance. Alderman Beverly Burger told The Daily Wire in a phone interview that there had been “very explicit sexual movements” at the festival in the past, which took place at Harlinsdale Farm, a public park in Franklin.
“If it was so family friendly, why are we here tonight,” Burger asked during debate on the festival at the meeting, saying that it was dishonest to present the previous year’s festival as “family friendly.”
She added that the vote was about the festival taking place on public property, not at a private location.
Another alderman, Gabrielle Hanson, said that she had offered the organizers of the festival help in finding a private location for the event, but her efforts had been rejected.
Another alderman, Matt Brown, claimed the city of Franklin would be sued and the group would be able to host its festival one way or another. He also cited Matthew 22:21, claiming that the law stipulated that the permit should be allowed.
Moore said that he would oppose granting a permit in the future if the show was found to be inappropriate this year.
The BOMA Pride Festival permit vote ties at 4-4 with Hanson, Barnhill, Baggett and Burger voting against the Pride Festival. Mayor Ken Moore will make the deciding vote.
— Williamson Herald (@wherald) April 12, 2023
Burger has introduced a resolution that was also under discussion, but the resolution has been deferred to work out the legal language.
Burger said she had received two threatening calls related to her position on the festival.
Burger told The Daily Wire in a phone interview on Tuesday that her vote against allowing the festival was based on previous behavior at the festival, saying that there needed to be consequences for bad actions. She said that the issue at the center of the controversy was not free speech, but public decency and behavior. “The Constitution does not give you freedom to behave in all types of manners, and we have community laws, community decency standards in our cities, our counties, our states, our country, and it’s about time we stood back up for those,” she said.
The vote comes after the Tennessee General Assembly voted this year to protect children from sexually explicit performances, a law that has been put on hold by a federal judge in Memphis.