Tennessee On the Brink of Becoming First State to Pass Anti-LGBTQ Legislation This Year

April 3, 2019 • 10:28 am

NASHVILLE – Tennessee lawmakers advanced two dangerously discriminatory bills this week, both part of the most extreme anti-LGBTQ slate of bills in the nation. The anti-LGBTQ slate of bills includes legislation that would allow businesses and taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people, and legislation that would undermine the ability of public school districts to provide transgender students with equal protections.

“Tennessee is on the brink of becoming the next North Carolina – and the first state in the nation to pass anti-LGBTQ legislation this year,” said Kasey Suffredini, President of Strategy at Freedom for All Americans. “Tennessee can’t afford to face the economic consequences of passing laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people. The anti-LGBTQ bills advancing in Tennessee are some of the most dangerous in the nation, and we stand with our local partners in opposition to these dangerous attacks on LGBTQ Tennesseans.”

“Year after year, a small group of Tennessee lawmakers appear bound and determined to undermine the rights of LGBTQ people,” said Chris Sanders, executive director of Tennessee Equality Project. “This anti-LGBTQ slate would have catastrophic consequences for our state – and those consequences would hit our young people the hardest. We’ve seen time and again that children pay the price when states pass legislation that allows private child welfare agencies to turn away loving, qualified couples using state funds. All students deserve the same opportunities to participate fully in school activities, including transgender youth. Even with the amendment, HB1274 takes Tennessee down a dangerous road. This slate strikes at the dignity of LGBTQ people in Tennessee and adopting any of these bills would do lasting damage.”

  • Three out of six anti-LGBTQ bills are moving at lightning speed towards Governor Lee’s desk, who has indicated support for at least one of the proposals so far.

  • On Monday, the Tennessee House approved HB 836, which would allow taxpayer-funded child welfare services to discriminate against LGBTQ people and people of minority faiths, among others. Its Senate companion, SB 1304, is expected to be heard next week.

  • The Tennessee House Civil Justice Subcommittee also passed HB 1274 on Monday, which would encourage school districts to pass discriminatory anti-transgender restroom policies and requiring the Attorney General to pay all legal costs to defend theses policies in court, even as amended.

  • A third bill (HB 563) has already passed the House floor and would prevent local governments from providing business incentives to companies on the basis of their internal policies, such as LGBTQ-inclusive antidiscrimination protections.

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