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Tennessee Governor Signs Anti-Gay Bill Prohibiting Local Non-Discrimination Statutes, Overturning Nashville Ordinance

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has signed an anti-gay bill prohibiting local municipalities from enacting their own non-discrimination statues and forcing them to rely on state law, WSMV reports

Haslam The new law voids a Nashville ordinance barring companies that discriminate against gays and lesbians from doing business with the city.

The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce lobbied  for the bill. FedEx, AT&T, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG, Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare are all represented on that board, Americablog noted in a campaign launched yesterday to pressure the governor into vetoing the bill.

Since the campaign began, many of the companies listed above released statements. Read them here.

The Chamber of Commerce also officially stated its opposition to the bill in a resolution earlier today:

“The Tennessee Chamber supports a standard regulatory environment at the state level as opposed to potentially conflicting local regulations covering employment practices. That principle was the only interest the Chamber had in this bill. Because HB600/SB632 has turned into a debate on diversity and inclusiveness—principles which we support—we are now officially opposing this legislation in its present form.”

Adopted unanimously May 23, 2011


Unfortunately, it's too late. The bill has been signed.

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  1. Is it possible for municipals in Tennessee to sue the state? If so, they should do it. This is the exact opposite of what Republicans stand for. They really don't stand for limited government anymore. I honestly see limited government stance more from the Democrats than from Republicans.

    Posted by: Sam | May 23, 2011 8:25:47 PM

  2. BOYCOTT Nashville - Boycott Jack Daniels! Tourism and Booze. Hiot em where it hurts!

    Posted by: Jeff | May 23, 2011 8:27:46 PM

  3. Yeah, riiiiiight, NOW they oppose it. Uh-huh. So we're to believe that no one from the TN Chamber of Commerce READ THE F#%KING bill before, and during, the time they SUPPORTED it? What a bunch of ignorant, flip-flopping, ass-kissing, back-pedaling cowards.

    Posted by: Jim | May 23, 2011 8:28:44 PM

  4. It is just all so easy to say - after the passage of the legislation - that you did not support it - the Tennessee Chamber HAS ALL THE POWER - and every single major corporation that is a member of that Chamber - HAS ALL THE POWER -- their pretense that they did not support this bill is just that - a lazy lie they are only half bothering to tell. They want uniform regulatory environment - and THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT ANYTHING OTHER THAN THAT.

    I want to be around long enough to see the state of Tennessee not care about what the Chamber or what big business wants - NO MATTER WHAT.

    Now, much like Target - big corporations and the Chamber are getting exactly what they want in Tennessee - and then crying that they did not really want that at all.

    Tennessee has never brought anything but shame to America - glad to see they can still deliver on something.

    Posted by: ricky | May 23, 2011 8:34:49 PM

  5. Just curious, do any munipalities in Tennesee besides Nashville actually have any non-discrimination statutes on the books?

    Posted by: meercat | May 23, 2011 8:41:30 PM

  6. Instead of job creation and improving a dismal economy ..these bigoted politicians are showing their true colors. THIS is what is important to them! How sad. I say expose them to the masses and next election RUN to the polls!

    Posted by: Jamesstone | May 23, 2011 9:07:48 PM

  7. Is it my imagination, or, someone feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but by allowing bigoted business to operate within Tennessee, the Chamber of Commerce finds financial justification for signing institutionalized discrimination into law because their financial interests override any civil liberties and equality measures proposed by individual cases or businesses.

    In almost all states, a corporation is required to maintain foreign entity status in any state in which it was not incorporated within. That means that companies like ATT pay money directly to Tennessee in order to operate and sell service within state boundaries. The ANTI-discriminatory proposed legislation effectively meant that ATT (and all others) would be required to supply equal benefits to ALL statewide employees. There is no way in hell they didn't know about it OR opposed it. That's corporate PR fire stomping and ass kissing, but in reality, they know damn good and well that if you own any phone/data Apple product, you don't have a choice unless you've got an unlocked product with a different carrier.

    Bottom line? Money trumps equal rights in Tennessee.

    Posted by: ESA | May 23, 2011 9:48:17 PM

  8. BTW, I do actually mean that the Tennessee Chamber carries enough financial weight to sway political agenda.

    Posted by: ESA | May 23, 2011 9:50:00 PM

  9. boycott Tennessee!

    Posted by: JoeInSF | May 23, 2011 9:54:47 PM

  10. The Chamber of Commerce spoke out in opposition to the same bill that they sponsored? WTF?

    Those companies named who are on the Board of Directors were warned a month ago that this bill would repeal LGBT rights in Nashville, and they did nothing. The statements released by these companies today are flat out lies! They were warned in writing what effect the bill would have.

    Posted by: Ian | May 23, 2011 10:22:42 PM

  11. I cannot defend AT&T's involvement in the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, but the comment that AT&T would seek to not provide benefits to employees at the state level is not accurate. AT&T provides benefits to partners of gays and lesbians nationally, not state-by-state. In locations where there is no domestic partner, civil union or marriage statutes, AT&T will require some proof (mortgage, bank account or something) demonstrating the employee/partner's joint financial support for each other. Because of DOMA, AT&T is obligated by federal law to include the cost of benefits for the partner as part of the employee's compensation (meaning that I pay extra taxes my straight co-workers do not). But again, that is strictly beyond AT&T's control.

    Posted by: Jim H | May 23, 2011 10:33:55 PM

  12. The Chamber of Commerce is evil, and must be stopped. Join a union tomorrow, everybody.

    Posted by: Thomas C. | May 23, 2011 11:06:14 PM

  13. Well why boycott Nashville? They actually passed a local ordinance.

    But TN state government, the chamber of commerce and the companies represented on the board, need to be called on this BS. I can't believe the chamber could get the anti-gay part removed. I don't believe it.

    Posted by: ratbastard | May 23, 2011 11:09:49 PM


    COULDN'T....I don't believe the chamber couldn't get the anti-gay part of the bill removed.

    Posted by: ratbastard | May 23, 2011 11:11:43 PM

  15. Oh, these huge companies on the TN Chamber of Commerce knew this was going to happen.

    I enjoy having bigots exposed so I can control my dollars.

    I am sending an email to all of the ones I do business with and most likely take my dollars elsewhere. We have not been in a Target in almost a year.

    Posted by: Matt Ford | May 23, 2011 11:20:17 PM

  16. PS. If they truly unknowingly did not think this was going to pass, these corporations are too stupid to have my business.

    Posted by: Matt Ford | May 23, 2011 11:22:17 PM

  17. Tennessee is a fly over state!

    Posted by: NY2.0 | May 24, 2011 12:07:43 AM


    Send him an e-mail. I won't transit TN or support TN corporations.

    Inaction is always acceptance of or surrender to the status quo.

    Now, it's up to TN activists to schedule a march. You listenin', guys and gals?

    Posted by: Perry | May 24, 2011 12:37:46 AM

  19. If the TN Chamber of Commerce were sincere in standing for fairness, then they simply should have campaigned to have the Nashville ordinance instituted statewide, not nullified. (In fact, they could do that NOW!)
    As long as any given company is already not treating employees unfairly, these laws have no detrimental effect on them whatsoever.
    As it is, this makes me want to be sure not to spend a dollar in Tennessee.

    I'm also taking note of its member companies. FedEx already had a HRC Corporate Equality Index rating 20 points lower than UPS, for example, (I have the free I-Phone app) and it's certainly easy enough for me to send parcels through UPS instead.

    (PS: Is anyone else having trouble with Towleroad on I-Phone since about 24 hours ago? I can no longer read any page from top to bottom.)

    Posted by: GregV | May 24, 2011 12:54:32 AM

  20. Okay, Jim H., thank you. I stand corrected. In essence, ATT (only used as an example, btw) really doesn't care then (or others which may be covered by Federal law). The first statement I made, however, does hold water but additionally, a national corporation with its own policies unaffected certainly has no interest in interfering with local politics on a financial level, especially if it represents no comparable service competition. So who really is to blame here? Politicians seeking to bring new businesses into the state for financial reasons, regardless of their ideologies, or large corporations who are beholden to none but suggest that they take care of their own people as allowed by law?

    Posted by: ESA | May 24, 2011 1:04:14 AM

  21. Oh my God, what the F?!! Pfizer and Dupont?!?! So much backstabbing-- argh, I can't believe my money goes back to juse persecute us through these money-grubbing companies! How much more anti-gay can they get? I just want to burn down those buildings and fight back, I'm so angry! I need to quit those industries

    Posted by: X | May 24, 2011 1:38:53 AM

  22. Where is the federal government here, too?? I just don't get it! Why is there a state's right to ruin the lives of its own people?? It's starting to sound like the people who claim there's religions rights to ruin people's lives, too-- why is no one protecting us against this? I hate this, and this has to stop!

    Posted by: X | May 24, 2011 1:48:17 AM

  23. The REPUBLICAN Party is a HATE organization. Where the devil is HRC, GLAAD and SPLC in finally recognizing the fact that Republican's are against gays, and will, if not Federally, State-by-State try to persecute gays!!! Is this not how NAZISM came to be??? A bit at a time!!!!!


    Posted by: CB | May 24, 2011 2:24:54 AM

  24. "The Tennessee Chamber supports a standard regulatory environment at the state level"

    In other words, they want the convenience of being able to deny equal benefits *equally* to a segment of employees, rather than only being able to deny benefits to a few...oh,, rather than suffer the bureaucratic headache of having to offer a standard benefits package to, wait...

    Posted by: JJ | May 24, 2011 3:15:54 AM

  25. Yeah the chamber is slimy but what do you expect? Again the issue here which wew LOVE to ignore is that the gay rights groups in the area did not lobby against this bill earlier enough.

    Why were they not on the lookout? What do they actually do? Is this also part of HRC's remit?

    It confuses me no end how shoddy you guys are when it comes to passing or stoping any legislation state by state.

    Damn, what would you all do without Obama!

    Clinton is definitely a state by state lady all the way!

    Posted by: Rowan | May 24, 2011 5:06:18 AM

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