Tennessee Senate Committee Rejects Anti-Transgender Bill, Likely Defeating It For The Session

By Megan Clayton • March 22, 2017 • 5:11 pm

A dangerous bill that would have prohibited students from using the restrooms that match the gender they live as everyday has likely been defeated in Tennessee after an important vote blocked it from advancing further. Several other bills seeking to target LGBT people remain in consideration in the state. 

This afternoon Tennessee’s Senate Education Committee voted to block the measure, Senate Bill 771, meaning that it and its House counterpart, House Bill 888, will likely not advance this year.

SB 771 was just the latest attempt by Tennessee lawmakers to chip away at the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents and visitors—attempts that Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans, says run contrary to what most Tennesseans and most Americans want to see their elected representatives focus on.

“The vast majority of Americans believe that everyone should be treated equally and fairly under the law, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. These are principles that are enshrined in the constitution. We are pleased the Senate Education Committee blocked HB771/HB888, and we hope lawmakers will block the rest of these anti-LGBT bills as well.”

One of those other bills is House Bill 1111, which the Tennessee House of Representatives voted 70-23 to pass last week. Essentially, it would eliminate constitutionally guaranteed rights for same-sex couples and parents. If signed into law, HB1111 and its Senate counterpart, Senate Bill 1085, would require the state to interpret undefined words such as mother, father, wife and husband by their “natural and ordinary meanings.”

Next week, the House Civil Justice Subcommittee is expected to pick up another anti-LGBT piece of legislation. House Bill 892/Senate Bill 752 would require the state to defend marriage between one man and woman, regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.

This bills not only run contrary to what the majority of people want, they run contrary to what’s in the best interest of Tennessee’s economy. Look no further than North Carolina and Indiana.

In just the last year, North Carolina has seen its economy lose close to $1 billion in economic investments, including new business, conventions, major sporting events, tourism and more after it passed one of the nation’s most virulently anti-LGBT laws. Likewise, Indiana has also seen its economy suffer irreparable harm after it passed legislation that legalized discrimination against LGBT individuals.

If Tennessee passes any of the proposed anti-LGBT bills into law, the Volunteer State will likely face a similar fate, McTighe added.

“It’s clear that many in the Tennessee legislature are openly advocating for discrimination against LGBT residents and citizens. These dangerous laws will open LGBT Tennesseans and their families to harm, damage the state’s reputation and cost the state millions of dollars in investments, court challenges and jobs.”

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