GOP congressman made headlines for his cute son. Then people brought up how he met his wife….

John Rose, Chelsea Doss, child marriage, tennessee
John Rose and Chelsea Doss' wedding announcement Photo: screenshot

Earlier this week, Rep. John Rose (R-TN) was back in the media spotlight. He gave a floor speech in the House of Representatives with his six-year-old son sitting just behind him, and his son started making faces for the camera.

“Tennessee Congressman John Rose’s son stole the show on Capitol Hill on Monday,” TMZ posted to X with the video. “6-year-old Guy was bored outta his mind … and clearly decided to take action.”

Then people brought up how the child’s parents met.

According to publicly available information, Rose was in his 40s when he met 17-year-old Chelsea Doss. She was still a high school student and involved in the Future Farmers of America, and Rose was volunteering for the FFA at the time.

Doss later applied for the Rose Scholarship from the FFA to attend Tennessee Tech University, which she received. The Rose Scholarship is named for Rose’s parents.

At that time, Rose, a Tennessee Tech alum, was the 44-year-old chairman of the board governing the Tennessee FFA’s scholarships. Rose was also a chairman of the university board overseeing the school’s fundraising, according to journalist Christopher Ingraham.

In a November 2009 Tennessee Tech University press release, Doss said, “John has made everything possible that I’ve done in FFA beyond high school. Through the scholarship that he provides, I’ve not had to have a job through college. I’ve been able to train, improve, focus on FFA, and focus on school. That scholarship has made all the difference. He has also coached me during my preparation, which has been extremely helpful.”

Fourteen months later, they announced their engagement. It’s not clear when they started dating or building an intimate relationship. They now have two children.

Rose opposes LGBTQ+ equality, getting consistent scores of “0” on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard. He voted against the Equality Act – which would add LGBTQ+ people to federal civil rights legislation – in 2021 because it “endangers our religious freedoms and threatens the safety and well-being of our families” and would “create more inequality” by “undercutting protections for women,” implying that equal rights for transgender people would harm cisgender women.

While journalist Christopher Ingraham noted that there’s “no evidence [Rose and Doss’s] relationship broke any laws” – Rose himself has not commented on stories on the topic; Tennessee’s age of consent is 18 and allows minors as young as 16 to get married with parental approval – many people online brought up the possible power dynamic between the middle-aged man and the then-high school student.

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