Campfield sticks to stance despite growing local, natl attention

Sen. Stacey Campfield sticks to stance despite growing local, national backlash

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Sen. Stacey Campfield Sen. Stacey Campfield
This flyer was displayed Tuesday on the UT campus. This flyer was displayed Tuesday on the UT campus.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - On Tuesday, reports on a downtown Knoxville restaurant owner booting state Sen. Stacey Campfield because of his stance on homosexuality were getting more of a local backlash, as well as national one.

6 News reported Monday on the incident and the Huffington Post ran a report on Tuesday.

Campfield, a Knoxville, Republican, spoke to 6 News again Tuesday. He isn't backing down on what he said, despite health officials refuting his remarks on the origin of AIDS.

Those comments as well as others he made about homosexuality got him ousted from Bistro by the Bijou on Sunday.

Sen. Campfield's bill, nicknamed the Don't Say Gay bill, passed the state Senate last year. It's set to go before the House in February. It would block teachers from discussing homosexuality in elementary and middle school classrooms.

"I think some of the things he's said affected the gay community in a negative light," said Knoxville resident Colby Byram.

A flyer with Campfield's picture labeled "Bigotry Wears a Suit" was posted on the University of Tennessee campus Tuesday.

A Facebook group called "Recall TN State Senator Stacey Campfield" has more than 1,300 likes and counting.

"There's people out there that always hate," Sen. Campfield said by phone from Nashville. "To all those haters out there, I guess they're going to keep on hating. But it doesn't bother me."

Campfield says he doesn't believe what he said puts Tennessee in a bad light.

"If Tennessee looks bad because we say hey the act of homosexuality is dangerous, a dangerous lifestyle that kills people, much more so than heterosexuals," he said.

Members of the Knox County Democratic Party say Campfield's comments are helping their party.

"It just points out how irrelevant and how embarrassing it is for the 200,000 people that he represents in his senatorial district to be represented like that," said Democratic Vice Chair Doug Veum.

Others worry that his comments are giving Tennessee a black eye. "I think that this will have a great impact on the outside world's view of Tennessee. We the people elected this man into office. He's there to speak for us," Byram said.

"If they don't like his philosophies, don't like his beliefs, he has given them a perfect opportunity to pillory him in a humorous and not so humorous ways," said 6 News political analyst George Korda.

Korda also says in the long run, the impact Campfield's comments could have on the state's reputation may be overstated.

"Is it irritating to see Tennessee made fun of national programs? Yes, but it has a shelf-life and then it goes away," Korda said.

Despite the Facebook group, voters can't recall state senators in Tennessee. The House of Representatives would have to file impeachment charges.

Campfield serves on the Education, Judiciary and State and Local Government committees. He's not up for re-election until 2014.

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