It’s Illegal To Be Gay In This Tennessee City

The City of Murfreesboro has banned "indecent behavior," which includes homosexuality.

Located about 30 miles outside of Nashville, the city of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, recently passed an ordinance that prohibits homosexuality in public. 

Passed in June 2023, the ordinance bans “indecent behavior” which includes “indecent exposure, public indecency, lewd behavior, nudity or sexual conduct.” Erin in the Morning reported that the document mentions Section 21-72 of the city code, which specifically says that “sexual conduct” includes homosexuality.

The decree also states that the local community has the right to “establish and preserve contemporary community standards,” which means city officials can ban acts they deem “indecent.”

City officials met on Nov. 6 to discuss the removal of books from the Rutherford County Library that contain LBGTQ+ content, also considered “indecent” under the recent city ordinance. 

According to Erin in the Morning, the library board has removed four books: Flamer by Mike Curato; Let’s Talk About It by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan; Queerfully and Wonderfully Made: A Guide for LGBTQ+ Christian Teens by Jennifer Knapp; and This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson. 

In October, a judge temporarily blocked a ban that would have made it illegal for the Tennessee Equality Project to host its annual BoroPride festival.   

A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union forced Judge Waverly Crenshaw Jr. to ban the city from enforcing the ordinance.

“We are relieved that the court has taken action to ensure that Murfreesboro’s discriminatory ordinance will not be enforced during the BoroPride festival,” Tennessee Equality Project Executive Director Chris Sanders said in a statement. 

This controversial ordinance makes things even more complicated for same-sex married couples in Murfreesboro. Since 2014, gay marriage has been legal in Tennessee; but in March, the state House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow officiants to refuse to perform a gay marriage if they disagreed with the union. The bill has been introduced to the Senate and deferred until 2024.