Tennessee State Senator Paul Stanley stepped down as chairman of the state Senate's powerful Commerce, Labor and Agriculture Committee Wednesday amid allegations of a sex scandal, My Fox Memphis reported.

In March, Stanley, a Republican from Germantown, joined Representative John J. DeBerry Jr., a Democrat from Memphis, in introducing a bill that would ban unmarried couples from adopting. The regulation would have effectively outlawed gay and lesbian couples from adopting since Tennessee law defines marriage as a heterosexual union.

Neither lawmaker has spoken publicly about his reasons for sponsoring the legislation, saying only that a loving married couple provide the ideal home environment for children. (“When you're married,” Stanley said, “there's a commitment there.”)

“If a member of the public would like to know my reasons, they can contact me, come into my office,” DeBerry told The Tennessean. “We will shut the door, and I would be happy to share my reasons.”

But supporters of a similar measure that passed last November in Arkansas have been more vocal about their motives. The Family Council Action Committee urged passage of the unmarried adoption ban to “blunt a homosexual” agenda, the group said on its website.

Stanley, a champion of family values, stepped down as chairman following the revelation that he was the target of an alleged extortion plot.

Reports indicate that Joel Watts threatened to expose Stanley's extramarital affair with twenty-two-year-old intern McKensie Morrison, a student at Austin Peay State University.

Watts, a former boyfriend of Morrison, threatened to make public nude pictures of Morrison allegedly taken inside Stanley's Nashville apartment if he was not paid $10,000.

Stanley, 47, contacted the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and wore a wire to an April meeting with Watts where he paid Watts the money for a disc that contained the pictures.

In a statement, Stanley said: “Unfortunately I am the victim and a witness to crime in an ongoing investigation. At this time, I have been advised by authorities not to comment.”

Watts appeared in court Monday to face a charge of extortion.