Tennessee Legislature Sends Unconstitutional LGBT Erasure Bill to Governor’s Desk

By Adam Polaski • April 27, 2017 • 2:46 pm

This morning the Tennessee state Senate gave final approval to a piece of legislation that stands to undermine the rights of same-sex couples and LGBT parents.

House Bill 1111, a so-called “LGBT Erasure” bill, would “require that words be given their natural and ordinary meaning” in TN legal code—effectively writing same-sex couples, and all LGBT Tennesseans out of state laws and creating loop holes that give a license to discriminate.

The measure, which now heads to Republican Governor Bill Haslam’s desk, is an attempt by lawmakers to eliminate the rights of same-sex couples to marry, adopt children, divorce and more.

Think HB 1111 sounds confusing and vague? It is—lawmakers drafted it that way on purpose.

That’s because their first attempt to pass similar legislation, which was more narrowly defined, failed earlier this year. Now they’re trying to mask their true intent with LGBT Erasure Bill 2.0 in hopes that the bill will fly below the radars of advocates, grassroots supporters, and fair-minded elected officials.

Their ploy won’t work. HB 1111 is actually more dangerous because it’s so vague. The TN Attorney General has said it contradicts laws guaranteeing the right of same-sex couples to marry, and that it could result in costly lawsuits. And that’s just the start.

Freedom for All Americans Executive Director Matt McTighe said today:

“The passage of this legislation is an egregious and blatantly unconstitutional effort to take away the rights of same-sex couples. I urge Gov. Haslam to take a definitive stand for Tennessee’s LGBT community and veto this vindictive piece of legislation.”

The legislation flies in the face of the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision which found that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marriage equality and all the privileges associated with it. As seen in other states that have adopted anti-LGBT laws, Tennessee is expected to lose millions of dollars in business, jobs, conventions and tourism if the measure is signed into law.

“Business leaders and everyday Americans do not want to spend their hard-earned money in states that discriminate against  anyone, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Gov. Haslam has an opportunity to defend his LGBT constituents, as well as his state’s economy and reputation by vetoing this unconstitutional measure. We hope he does the right thing,” McTighe added.

Once the measure is transmitted to Haslam’s office, he will have 10 days to sign or veto the legislation, excluding Sunday. After the 10 day deadline, the measure will become law with or without his signature.

If you’re a Tennessee resident, take action by urging the governor to veto here.

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