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'Don't Say Gay' senator is asked to leave Tennessee restaurant

January 31, 2012 |  7:29 am
Bistro at the Bijou owner Martha Boggs, center

It's a still a free country.

You are still free to preach against the alleged dangers of engaging in a homosexual lifestyle, as Tennessee state Sen. Stacey Campfield did recently.

You are even free to assert -- as Campfield did, incorrectly -- that the HIV epidemic began when a gay airline employee had sex with a monkey.

Just don't think you're going to be able to go to downtown Knoxville, sit down for brunch at one of its better restaurants and enjoy the red flannel hash topped with poached eggs -- because the proprietor just might refuse service to the likes of you.

Campfield, a Republican who represents the Knoxville area, has gained notoriety among gay supporters in recent days for sponsoring legislation some call the "Don't Say Gay" bill, which would ban discussion of homosexuality in elementary and middle schools.

He aired his assertions about the origins of HIV and AIDS during an interview on OutQ, a gay-themed channel on SiriusXM satellite radio, according to Tennessee TV station WBIR.

His hometown newspaper, the Knoxville News Sentinel, reported that on Sunday, Campfield walked into the Bistro at the Bijou restaurant for brunch and was told he wasn't welcome by owner Martha Boggs.

"He's gone from being stupid to dangerous," Boggs told the paper. "It's just my way of standing up to a bully."

Boggs said the senator didn't say much, but "left graciously."

News Sentinel reporter Matt Lakin noted that a sign in front of the restaurant on Monday read: "Today's Special: Fried Chicken. Crispy Chicken Livers. No Stacey."

As of Tuesday morning, more than 900 people have "liked" a "Recall TN State Senator Campfield" page on Facebook, but Lakin notes that state legislators can only be removed by impeachment.

Campfield stood by his assertions in a blog post and mused about his treatment at the restaurant:

"In the 60's my grandfather sat at the lunch counters with the blacks in Knoxville to help break up the segregation of the races. I guess some people still support segregation. Just segregation of thought. Some people have told me my civil rights were violated under the 1964 civil rights act in that a person can not be denied service based on their religious beliefs. (I am catholic and the catholic church does not support the act of homosexuality) I had not thought about that much.

"I just figured this is just another example of the open minded tolerant left. They claim tolerances for divergent points of view.....Until someone actually has one. Then they don't know how to handle it."

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-- Richard Fausset in Atlanta

Photo: Bistro at the Bijou owner Martha Boggs, center, talks to customers Jennie Caissie, left, and Ann League on Monday in Knoxville, Tenn. Boggs refused to serve controversial state Sen. Stacey Campfield during brunch Sunday because of his recent remarks about the origin of AIDS. Credit: Michael Patrick/Knoxville News Sentinel

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