Cari Wade Gervin — a longtime political reporter who covers Tennessee news, politics and gossip site The Dog and Pony Show — has accused 59-year-old Tennessee state Rep. Bill Sanderson of “openly soliciting sex” and sending “sexually explicit messages and pictures to men almost 40 years his junior” while voting repeatedly in favor of anti-LGBTQ legislation.
Sanderson resigned today. He says he’s resigning to run his business, White Squirrel Winery, but Gervin claims that his resignation was partly in response to the revealing of his same-sex encounters.
In January 2014, the gossip blog The Dirty published messages Sanderson allegedly sent to an unnamed male Vanderbilt student in which Sanderson writes that he is a “state rep” representing Obion, Lake and Dyer Counties, his actual district.
The article details another alleged near encounter between Sanderson and another young man which was curtailed by his wife coming home. The article also details that Sanderson has been a consistent vote against anything pro-LGBTQ:
In 2011, Sanderson voted against allowing cities to adopt anti-LGBT discrimination ordinances. In 2012, he voted for an abstinence-only sex-ed bill that banned discussion of “gateway sexual activity.” In 2016, he signed a resolution denouncing the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling and supported a bill allowing therapists to turn away gay clients (in violation of the American Counseling Association’s code of ethics). This year, he voted to defend schools that refuse bathroom access to trans students, signed a watered down anti-trans bathroom bill and voted to allow adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.
With this revelation, Sanderson joins a long list of politicians and leaders (many who were anti-LGBTQ) brought down by accusations that they were secretly gay.