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Tennessee city OKs Pride Festival by one vote: "Community decency" policy up for a vote soon

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Photo courtesy of Franklin Pride
Photo courtesy of Franklin Pride

The City of Franklin, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville, voted narrowly to reauthorize the annual Pride Festival. The April 11 vote of the city's aldermen resulted in a 4-4 tie, with Mayor Ken Moore casting the deciding vote in favor of the festival.

Moore said he would approve the event because he wants to unite the community, but according to the local Fox affiliate, he warned Pride organizers that their festival "would be under a microscope."

According to NBC News, "a handful of community members had pleaded with the Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA) to block the event's permit, claiming that Pride festivals are intended to 'groom' children."

The festival president, Clayton Klutts, retorted that many of the festival's detractors "were not in attendance" during last year's event. Klutts added that "they have somehow reimagined it to be a very different event than what was actually held."

Photo courtesy of Franklin Pride  

"As you consider our application, I encourage you to listen to the voices of the people who were there and vote to approve our application," Klutts told the city board.

The board also postponed a vote on a "community decency" policy that would prohibit "any act or conduct that is not consistent with generally accepted standards of behavior and conduct," including a vaguely worded prohibition of "lewd or sexually suggestive behavior" and "excessive and offensive intimate public displays of affection."

Last month, the state of Tennessee enacted a new anti-drag law that restricts "adult cabaret performances" in public or in the presence of children, and bans them from occurring within 1,000 feet of schools, public parks, or places of worship.

This was passed alongside separate legislation that bans transgender minors in Tennessee from receiving gender-affirming care like puberty blockers, hormones, and surgery.

Those found violating the anti-drag law face misdemeanor charges in the first instance, punishable by a fine up to $2,500 and/or up to a year in jail. Subsequent violations incur a felony charge, punishable by up to six years in jail. 

LGBTQ activists warned that the newly enacted state law and the Franklin city "decency" policy — if enacted — could be used to bar Transgender people from appearing in public spaces, or even to separate Trans parents from their own children.