A black, pro-life lawmaker who supported school vouchers has been expelled from the Tennessee Democratic Party’s upcoming primary.
State Rep. John DeBerry, who was elected to serve the Memphis area in 1994, was ousted by the party’s executive committee on Wednesday and his name will not appear on the ballot.
“After a long meeting in which we heard challenges and evidence, we did what we thought was best to protect the Tennessee Democratic Party and the values we stand for,” Tennessee Democratic Party chair Mary Mancini said in a statement.
The executive committee did not reveal what evidence they had or what the challenges might have been with the well-respected lawmaker.
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However, last year he was targeted by Planned Parenthood because of his opposition to abortion. And they also took issue with his support for school vouchers.
“I that that it is repulsive for a representative that is suppose to represent the will of the majority of his constituents to stand the way that Representative DeBerry stood,” Dr. Earle Fischer told Memphis television station WREG.
DeBerry is a Church of Christ minister and has long been opposed to killing unborn children.
“The Tennessee Democratic Party has decided that a 26-year Representative that spent 12 years as a committee chairman, conducted himself with integrity, served the party well, sponsored meaningful legislation and built bridges across the aisle to get bills passed is no longer a Democrat. And so, I’m not,” he said.
DeBerry was one of four Tennessee Democrats who voted in favor of a bill to ban abortions after six week weeks of pregnancy.
“I choose my battles, and I choose to give girls self esteem, self worth, to where they don’t feel that their bodies are just a vessel for somebody to play with and they don’t get themselves in that position,” DeBerry told the Commercial Appeal. “I think that’s what’s being lost. Personal responsibility, pride, self esteem — it makes a person walk away from those situations that get them in this position. Because the woman ultimately has to bear the burden,” he said. “The man walks away. The woman has to deal with it for the next nine months.”
DeBerry enjoys massive support among voters in his Memphis district and a fellow Democrat lawmaker wondered if something else was afoot.
“As an African American male, I am detecting a sinister plot for the credential challenge of Rep. DeBerry,” State Rep. Joe Towns told the Daily Memphian.
Towns told the newspaper that abortion and school vouchers are not litmus tests to be a Democrat.
“Let me emphasize that the overwhelming majority of the African American community has vetted John and found him not to be lacking and more than sufficient in Democratic values that reflect his district and the black community at large,” Towns said.