Bill Lee, 2018 candidate for Tennessee governor

Each candidate was given the choice of either coming into FACT’s headquarters for interview-style videos with FACT President David Fowler or shooting the videos themselves. Bill Lee chose to shoot the videos himself.

To view the transcribed text from the video, click on the plus sign. To collapse the text window, just click the minus sign.


What do you think is the primary function of civil government?

Bill Lee’s answer transcribed from video

The Founders of our country knew that government was not here to give us our rights. Those come from God. Government was here to secure our rights, rights like the ability to worship freely, religious liberty, the Second Amendment rights to bear arms, or the rights to petition our elected officials. That was a pretty radical thought at the time, because prior to that, no government in Europe had ever said that before, and it really is the genius of our founding. And that’s what limited government is about is to protect the rights and freedoms of a free people so that they can govern themselves.


Do you think that either the concept of “gender,” as distinguished from “sex,” or “gender identity” should be included as a protected class in Tennessee’s civil rights laws? Why or why not?

Bill Lee’s answer transcribed from video

It’s a basic principle that our laws exist to provide equal protection for everyone, and we already have that protection for every single American. At a time when we are way too divided, creating a new special class under the law only makes that problem worse. We don’t need more identity politics.


Do you think the concept of sexual orientation should be included as a protected class in Tennessee’s civil rights laws?  Why or why not?

Bill Lee’s answer transcribed from video

Equal protection under the law already exists for every American. I don’t think that we should create another special class under the law that will divide us even further.


If litigation over a new or existing law in Tennessee or even in some other state gave the United States Supreme Court an opportunity to reverse its 2015 decision regarding same-sex marriage, would it be your hope that the Court would do so?  Why or why not?

Bill Lee’s answer transcribed from video

I have always believed that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman instituted by God. When the Supreme Court intervened, I think they went around the democratic process and they made a ruling that our Founding Fathers would never have envisioned. I think those decisions should be left up to individual states, and I think we should not be leaving that to the decision of nine unelected judges.


If Roe v. Wade were ever overturned, what law or laws regarding abortion would you be willing to encourage the Legislature to enact and why?

Bill Lee’s answer transcribed from video

I feel very strongly that life begins at conception. It’s very personal to me. My wife and I had a pregnancy early on in our marriage. There was a test done that indicated there might be a severe birth defect and we were presented with a choice to terminate that pregnancy. For us as Believers, there was no choice. And that child is now an adult with three kids of her own. The bottom line is I am strongly pro-life. And as Governor, I will support laws that reduce the number of abortions in Tennessee.


In 2016, the ACLU filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against a local school district for discrimination because it had designated its multi-person locker rooms and bathrooms for use based on the student’s biological sex, even though it made accommodations for students who do not want to use those facilities based on their biological sex. What are your thoughts about whether schools should be allowed to have such a policy and whether the state should protect local schools from complaints and lawsuits over such policies?

Bill Lee’s answer transcribed from video

Local leaders need to be able to make decisions at the local level, and too often, outside groups come in trying to intimidate communities, burying them with litigation that they can’t afford. As Governor, I will do whatever it takes to defend that local decision-making process, including defending local school districts against intimidation or lawsuits.


Should the Attorney General continue to be appointed by the state’s Supreme Court justices or should that office be filled by popular vote of the people or by appointment of the Legislature in the same way they appoint the Secretary of State, Comptroller, and Treasurer and what is the basis for your opinion?

Bill Lee’s answer transcribed from video

Tennessee is the only state where the Supreme Court selects the Attorney General, and the Attorney General has one client: It’s the people of Tennessee. So, I think the Attorney General should be closer to the people. I would suggest that the Governor nominate the Attorney General and the Legislature confirm that nominee.


What criteria would you apply in nominating someone to the Tennessee Supreme Court?

Bill Lee’s answer transcribed from video

When selecting a Supreme Court Justice, I would look first at a person’s integrity. I would look for someone in the mold of Scalia or Thomas, someone who understands that the Constitution should be interpreted in its original meaning and that their job is to interpret the Constitution as it’s written not as they wish it were written or with some particular outcome in mind, someone who wouldn’t legislate from the bench.


In some states, religiously-based adoption agencies are being threatened with the loss of their state license to do adoptions if they will only place children in homes in which the marriage is between a male and female. What position would your administration take on that issue?

Bill Lee’s answer transcribed from video

My faith in Christ is the most important thing in my life and that will never change. And because of that, I believe that we should rigorously defend religious liberty. It’s part of the reason that Maria and I have traveled this state on a faith in Tennessee tour, visiting faith-based nonprofits, because I know that the government is rarely the answer, but that in fact our faith-based community, our faith-based nonprofits, community organizations are much more efficient, much more effective at solving some of the deepest challenges that we have in this state like adoption. It’s outrageous to me that holding a traditional view of marriage would ever be a disqualifier for an agency to be able to place children in loving homes in Tennessee.

Find out more about the process we followed in making sure as many candidates as possible participated in this video voter guide.