An online exchange between a mother and a state lawmaker is creating a firestorm of attention.
On Thursday, Nashville resident Telisha Cobb sent Tennessee Senator Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) an email criticizing his legislative proposals.
The email read:
I am writing to you today as a mother, active citizen and born & raised Tennessean. You are an embarrassment to our great state. Folks all over the country and here in Tennessee are looking at the bills that you are proposing in shock. They are the most ignorant and morally lacking legislation that could be proposed this year. It is clear that you are targeting homosexuals and low income families with hogwash legislation. You need to search your heart, your values and your Christianity to find a better way to represent us as a whole. We will do everything in our power to make sure that you are not here in 2014. There are numerous grass roots parties that are making their voices heard.
Campfield fired back.
In an email response, he wrote:
You seem to have some serious, deep anger issues. Have you ever thought about therapy? I hear they are doing some wonderful thing with medications these days.
Yours in service,
Sen. Stacey Campfield
Cobb posted the response on her Facebook page. By midday Friday, it had been shared more than 500 times and picked up by countless media outlets including TMZ.
"I was utterly shocked at the amount of disrespect and un-professionalism shown when he recommended I get therapy because I don't agree with him," Cobb said. "His reply shows an inability to do his job as a public servant."
Cobb, who used to live in Knoxville, now lives in Nashville. She said she wanted voters in Knoxville, especially, to read Campfield's response.
"I wanted other people to see that email because I wanted the people of Knoxville to vote him out," she said. "I am not trying to change his mind. His values are set in stone and he has an agenda of his own."
She continued, "I want him to be replaced and I don't want an apology from him because it would be half-hearted."
Campfield said Cobb and others are trying to intimidate him by sending the email and then making his response public.
"I have always said there is a very loud, very vocal two percent of the community a more or less homosexual activist community that likes to threaten, intimidate, insult, and belittle people," Campfield said. "I am not going to put up with it. That's not my job. I'm not a piñata."
Campfield has been at odds with gay rights supporters for years because of his efforts to pass legislation that would make it illegal to discuss homosexuality in schools.
The controversial proposals sparked protests in May 2011. His most recent proposal, SB 0234, was filed Tuesday and calls for a ban on homosexual discussion in grade levels pre-kindergarten through eight. It allows counseling for students on homosexuality, but parents must be notified.
Continued opposition has not deterred Campfield.
"I don't get bullied," he said. "The homosexual community is the biggest bunch of bullies out there. They try to intimidate people through yelling and screaming and calling names and using the media like this and trying to intimidate people, and I don't intimidate. Too bad, so sad, I'm still here."
SB 0234 has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.