After Dissing Renata Soto, Tennessee Republicans Snubbing Gay Rugby Players Now

Nashville Scene, Feb. 10, 2016

By: Jeff Woods

First, Republicans in the legislature threw hissy fits over that resolution congratulating Renata Soto and the evil La Raza. Now, they’re losing it over the gay rugby players.

The new resolution thanks an international gay rugby tournament for coming to NashVegas this spring. Rep. Rick Womick—one of the weirder wingnuts in the legislature—objected to it this week and delayed its consideration on the House floor until tomorrow.

Womick is accusing the sponsor— Nashville Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons—of bringing that resolution and the one for Renata Soto as a devious political trick to make Republicans look bad.

Of Clemmons, Womick said he doesn't appreciate the "shenanigans he's trying to pull right now.”

"I'm not the only one. I'll bet you almost every Republican in the House is opposed to the game he's playing right now,” Womick told Post Politics. 

The squirrels inside Womick’s head are telling him that the crafty Clemmons is trying to force Republicans to vote for resolutions saying nice things about brown-skinned people and gay people. That, in turn, could enrage right-wingers and cause them to mount challenges against these lawmakers in their next party primaries.

"What he and the state Democratic Party are trying to do is create campaigns affecting Republicans,” Womick says. “That’s fine. We'll just make sure what goes around comes around."

We asked Clemmons about this, and he laughed.

“I appreciate him giving me credit as a political genius,” Clemmons said. “If I could walk the GOP to the edge of the cliff with a couple of House joint resolutions, I’d be a lot smarter than I am.”

Clemmons’ resolution honors the championship tournament of International Gay Rugby, which returns to the United States for the first time since 2010 and is to be held in Nashville on May 22-29. It’s named for Mark Bingham, a rugby player who was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93 on 9/11. He may have been among the passengers who, along with Todd Beamer, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick, formed the plan to retake the plane from the hijackers.

Says Clemmons:

This doesn’t have anything to do with anybody being gay. This doesn’t have anything to do with individuals playing in this tournament. This is about a tournament that’s taking place in my district. That’s it, plain and simple. This doesn’t have any political motive.

Anybody who’s going to come to my city and my district and bring major dollars and attention to Nashville, Tennessee, on the world stage, I’ll honor them every time. Now if he’s got a problem with the word gay being in the resolution, that’s a problem for Rick Womick.  

Meanwhile, House Republicans are striking back. A little embarrassed by the Renata Soto flap, they've produced their own resolution honoring somebody named Tommy Vallejos “for his service as chairman of Latinos for Tennessee.” It’s on tomorrow's House agenda as well.

House Republican caucus chair Glen Casada denies GOPers are trying to show they don’t hate Hispanics. Asked if he’s responding to the Soto controversy, Casada said, “Absolutely not,” as his pants caught fire.