Knoxville Representative Stacey Campfield wants a $1,000 retainer fee to debate his "Don't Say Gay" bill with Sordid Lives writer/director/creator Del Shores. But the Tennessee Equality Project says no way.
Shores, who also produced Queer As Folk, had a Facebook exchange with Campfield, asking him to debate SB0049, which would prohibit the teaching and furnishing of materials on human sexuality other than heterosexuality in public school grades K-8.
Here was Campfield's response: "I will happily debate you. I require a $1,000.00 (sic) retainer fee and all expenses covered. You can do with the rest all you want."
The Facebook exchange posted on the vibinc blog does not mention where the debate would have taken place, but you can read the full story there (and see screenshots of Shores' interaction with Campfield).
Shores contacted the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) to seek help in raising Campfield's retainer fee, but TEP's Jonathan Cole wrote this in response:
TEP cannot justify raising money for an event that would financially benefit Sen. Campfield in his pursuit of anti-LGBT legislation to its donors. The fact that Campfield refused to debate his bill or homosexuality and the Bible without a $1,000 retainer fee plus expenses demonstrates to us that his only purpose is to use LGBT issues to fund his political and personal ambitions. His request for a fee may violate ethics rules. Sen. Campfield is a public servant who is paid by the State of Tennessee for his time as a legislator which includes debating his proposed legislation.
Shores' response showed his disappointment, though he agreed Campfield's retainer fee was "inappropriate." Here's part of Shores' letter to Cole:
So you are basically turning down an opportunity for huge nationwide exposure and coverage to benefit your organization because of his request for $1,000, which I agree is inappropriate, but this is something that could be used in every press release, every interview, every article for more exposure of his true self. And if it violates ethics rules, why wouldn’t you want that scandal and possible investigation?
The moral to the story? Well, you decide. Comment and let us know what you think.