Tennessee Senate Votes 21-8 to Approve Bill Prohibiting Local Non-Discrimination Laws

So, earlier I posted some good news out of Tennessee today, and now some bad.

TennesseeThe Tennessee Senate today passed a bill that would prohibit local municipalities from enacting their own non-discrimination statues and would force them to rely on state law.

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

The AP:

"The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet was approved 21-8 on Thursday. The companion bill passed the House 73-24 last month. Lawmakers must now work out differences before the measure goes to the governor for his consideration."


  1. Francis says

    Whenever social conservatives make any argument saying they don’t actually hate gay people or aren’t trying to punish and discriminate against people for being gay, things like this are what should be spotlighted, because actually going out of their way to make it LEGAL to discriminate against one group of individuals because of their sexual orientation says it all about these conservatives.

  2. TampaZeke says

    The ACLU is probably already all over this. This law doesn’t stand a chance in court. Colorado tried doing something similar a while back and SCOTUS shot it down, and it was passed by a statewide referendum, not a legislative decree. Courts are much more likely to overturn legislative missteps than they are people’s referendums, and still SCOTUS shot down the vile law in Colorado. Tennessee’s doesn’t have a chance.

    But it’s certainly good to see that Republicans have moved on from the days of legislative gay bashing and being obsessed with “social issues”. That is what we keep being told, right? Right Log Cabin and GOProud?

  3. Robert says

    The SCOTUS has basically already found this to be unconstitutional. Does no one remember Romer v. Evans from Colorado?

    “To the contrary, the amendment imposes a special disability upon those persons alone. Homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without constraint.

    Its sheer breadth is so discontinuous with the reasons offered for it that the amendment seems inexplicable by anything but animus toward the class that it affects; it lacks a rational relationship to legitimate state interests.

    [Amendment 2] is at once too narrow and too broad. It identifies persons by a single trait and then denies them protection across the board. The resulting disqualification of a class of persons from the right to seek specific protection from the law is unprecedented in our jurisprudence.”

    While the TN action is simply a law and not an amendment to the constitution of the state, I would imagine that it will be challenged and it will be struck down as unconstitutional under the Constitution of Tennessee. At least I would assume Tennessee has an equal protection clause in their constitution as almost all other states do.

  4. Manfred says

    yes, hopefully the ACLU sill pursue this, but they are currently being overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the republican assault on civil liberties and gay rights currently underway nationwide. We were warned that this would happen and people didn’t listen.

  5. Marcus says

    It’s always so curious that Republicans are all for smaller government and less intrusive governance except in cases where more government and more invasive governance is clearly “the answer”.

  6. Austin says

    Conservative are for limited government. One of their BIG LIES !!! These people just piss me off.

  7. Kyle says

    This is stupidly unconstitutional. I’m a law student, here’s a copy-paste snippet from my Constitutional Law notes last semester…

    Romer v. Evans (1996)
    -RULE: Homosexuals do not constitute a “suspect class;” therefore, laws burdening homosexuals are subject to “rational review.” However, preventing localities from passing laws barring LGBT discrimination fails rational review.
    oMoral disapproval not a legitimate state interest.
    -Here, Colorado constitutional amendment preventing all levels of govt from enacting legislation prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination, and specifically removes homosexuals from the very long list of groups against whom no discrimination allowed.

  8. Kyle says

    Responding to Robert’s post: the 14th Amendment applies all the federally recognized 5th amendment Due Process/Equal Protection Rights to the states. It doesn’t matter what TN’s constitution says.

  9. Steve says

    They are very well aware of the issues with Romer. That’s why the bill doesn’t explicitly mention gay people. It just prohibits ANY kind of non-discrimination laws.

    It should be obvious that it’s only targeted at one group though. The legislative record makes that clear.

  10. Biff says

    Legal scholars are offering mixed opinions on whether a challenge based on Romer would be successful in this case. Unlike in CO the TN law does not single out any group of people. The “Equal Access to Intra-state Commerce Act” is being presented as a way to make the state more business friendly by reducing excessive and/or conflicting regulation. It should be noted that a local hate group called the Tennessee Family Action Council has been lobbying heavily for this law and suggested it was needed to keep men from molesting children in public restrooms.

    Tennessee receives a great deal of revenue from tourism and convention business. Maybe a boycott is in order.

  11. anon says

    I’m glad people remember the CO decision. In all probability, this law will be struck down because there is a constitutional principle that the minimum standards are set on the broadest levels. That is, the more local the law, the more respect it gets from the courts. This in particular would affect the notion of “dry counties” in several southern states, so don’t expect this law to last long.

  12. Cyd says

    This is a disgusting display of hypocrisy by the Republicans. They preach “government closer to the people,” then overwhelmingly vote for the state to tell cities what to do. An absolute disgrace by the Tennessee GOP!!

  13. PLAINTOM says

    Libertarian = liberty : This would be the final reality of libertarian ideology successfully enacted. The libertarians sing the praises of individual liberty but once they effectively remove the federal government restraints their conservative allies at the state level would show their true nature. Conservatives don’t want liberty for others, they want the liberty to impose their rigid ideology on others. Libertarian Philosophy is the Conservatives Trojan Horse Strategy.

  14. X says

    How does this not enrage you?? Argh, what are we supposed to do now? Violence isn’t supposed to be the answer, but I need a solution to this! Tennessee sucks so much!

  15. Robert says

    What do you expect from Tenn. Its the bible belt, and no one else is welcome there. So tenn and other states like it will continue to live in the dark ages.

  16. Trish Tushy says

    Where are all of the racist comments? I miss those in regard to discussions on American homophobia.

  17. Brokebackvol says

    I left TN in ’93 when the Christian Coalition was pushing it’s public campaign which said in part that homosexuality is unwelcome – passed by resolutions in places like Knoxville. They are a good people, until their bigotry shows. Not unique to Tennessee or even the South. folks. Even the more liberal states like California and New York have an allotment of yokels that are addicted to lies extracted from the Bible through misinterpretation.

    Remember, they justfied slavery with the same book.

  18. Disgusted Gay American says

    …and I feel sorry about ALL those poor people who got wiped out by the Coal Ash last year,and now this year with all the flooding in TN…NOT! I lost all sympathy for places like them. I can Hate just as much as they can….Drown MF’rs

  19. Mark says

    Abraham Lincoln was wrong: we should have let the south go (and while we were at it, we could have thrown them states like Arizona and Texas as well, for good measure). I don’t know if it’s just me but more and more it feels like there are two poles in this country: the group of ultra-conservative, bible-thumping states like Tennessee and the somewhat progressive camp. However the two camps are growing worlds apart, almost beyond recognition of each other (except for probably the interstate shields dotting both camps)

    I remember just after the re-election of George W Bush in 2004, someone had colored a new political map of north America where the states that went for Bush were colored red and the rest of the states + Canada were colored blue. The blue portion looked very much like a horse shoe, with most the coastal states surrounding the red interior. The caption read: “North America’s new political map after November 2004.” Catchy, I thought.