Tennessee Legislature Delays Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Until Next Year

May 2, 2019 • 10:24 am

Nashville, TN – Amidst massive business opposition, the Tennessee Senate deferred passage of three anti-LGBTQ bills this year. The Tennessee legislature pursued the most extreme anti-LGBTQ slate in the country and passed only one significantly amended version of the six original bills.

“The Tennessee legislature dodged discriminatory legislation after pursuing the most extreme anti-LGBTQ slate in the country. Like all Americans, the vast majority of Tennesseans want to see their LGBTQ neighbors treated with dignity and respect. We will be back next year to make sure these dangerous proposals remain in the dustbin of history.” Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans

“Thanks to the work of many national and local partners and the work of hundreds of Tennesseans who fought so hard this session, we can celebrate stalling five of the six anti-LGBTQ bills in what seemed like an overwhelming slate in February,” said Chris Sanders, Executive Director of Tennessee Equality Project. “The lessons we learned and the organizing gains we made have put us in a stronger position for when the Legislature convenes in 2020.”

“The business community in Tennessee came out in full force to oppose discriminatory legislation, and we are grateful that the legislature wisely hesitated to pursue such dangerous proposals,” said Joe Woolley, CEO of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “Standing up against discrimination isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s the smart thing to do for our state’s economy. Business leaders do have a place in politics, no matter what some elected leaders may believe and they clearly spoke out on this issue, especially when they were told to stay out of it. I applaud the legislature for listening to our concerns and making the smart economic decision to defer SB 1304 and HB 1274.”

The Tennessee Senate deferred passage of three bills and will take them back up during next year’s legislative session:

  • SB 1499/HB 1274 would encourage school districts to pass anti-transgender restroom policies that prohibit transgender students from using the facilities that correspond with their gender identity, and would require the Attorney General to provide legal defense for those discriminatory school districts at taxpayers’ expense.
  • SB 1304/HB 836 would allow taxpayer-funded child welfare services to discriminate against LGBTQ people, single parents, and people of minority faiths, among others. Legislation that creates a license to discriminate in child welfare services has skyrocketed in recent years – similar laws are on the books in 9 states across the country.
  • Earlier this session, the Senate deferred HB 563/SB 364 which would prevent local governments from providing business incentives to companies on the basis of their internal policies, such as LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections.

Major corporations in Tennessee warned lawmakers that discriminatory laws would risk tourism revenue, talent recruitment, and business investment in the state. Over 100 business leaders signed an open letter organized by the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Freedom for All Americans opposing the slate of anti-LGBTQ bills, including AllianceBernstein, Amazon, Bridgestone Americas, Dell Technologies, Genesco, Lyft, Nashville Predators, Nissan, Postmates, Salesforce, Tennessee Titans, and Warner Music Group.

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