The Tennessee House voted Monday to advanced a bill that would nullify a Nashville-Davidson County metropolitan government ordinance mandating that companies wanting to do business with the city must not discriminate on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. The Tennessee state bill would make it illegal for local governments to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity which are not protected classes under state law.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada (R-Franklin), was approved in a 73-24 vote. Casada is quoted as saying that having a different set of laws on state and local levels would be bad for commerce and that he wants to make sure laws are “homogeneous.”
Critics say this is an overtly anti-LGBT move, with Democratic Rep. Jeanne Richardson of Memphis quoted as saying “I think there’s nothing homogeneous about this, but I think there’s a lot that’s homophobic about this bill.”
Critics point out that beyond the hostility to LGBT protections this presents, it demonstrates clear government overreach.
Supporters of the bill counter that the legislation allows local governments to create their own hiring policies and only restricts them in terms of contracting policies with external businesses.
Counterpart legislation in the Senate awaits a vote in the State and Local Government Committee.
Nike Inc.’s U.S. director of governance and public affairs, Orson C. Porter, sent a letter to show his support for Nashville’s proposed anti-discrimination ordinance. Nike employs an estimated 2,000 Tennesseans. Read more on that here. Porter has not yet responded to the TN Legislature’s move to block the ordinance.
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