Ari Ezra Waldman is a 2002 graduate of Harvard College and a 2005 graduate of Harvard Law School. After practicing in New York for five years and clerking at a federal appellate court in Washington, D.C., Ari is now on the faculty at California Western School of Law in San Diego, California. His research focuses on gay rights and the First Amendment. Ari will be writing weekly posts on law and various LGBT issues.
Follow Ari on Twitter at @ariezrawaldman.
"Crazy Town" is a song about Nashville, Tennessee. It tells the story of how hard it is to make it in a town as crazy as Nashville, or, "Hollywood with a touch of twang." It may indeed be hard to make it in Nashville, but just last month, the Hollywood of the Bible Belt tried to make life a little easier for its LGBT residents. Its town council proposed legislation that would require city government contractors to abide by the city's non-discrimination policy, which includes protections for LGBT persons.
But, yesterday, Andy posted about another proposal out of Nashville -- out of the state capitol building rather than city hall -- wherein municipalities in the state would be prohibited from passing their own anti-discrimination laws and would instead have to rely on the state-wide statute. The bill limits the state's non-discrimination policy to "race, creed, color, religion, sex, age or national origin."
Once again, it's hard to make it in Nashville.
This story seems like it is about discrimination against gays and lesbians in government contracts and employment. After all, but for Nashville's decision to include LGBT Tennesseans in its non-discrimination policy, conservative members of the state legislature would never have proposed this legislation. It is actually much more. The proposed state law proposes to eliminate the municipality as a recourse for LGBT political activity to achieve equality. It would narrow their recourse to changing state law, something that seems far less likely given Tennessee's conservatism.
Let's set aside for the moment whether this bill is a good/bad idea. I would imagine that many readers feel this is a bad bill. I want to ask a different question: Is this constitutionally permissible?
Continue reading "Crazy Town or Crazy State" AFTER THE JUMP.