Tennessee Anti-Equality Lawmakers Return with Anti-LGBTQ ‘Slate of Hate’

by Hope Jackson

Tennessee legislature is ramping up and once again anti-equality lawmakers are looking to pass a ‘Slate of Hate.’

Tennessee legislature is ramping up and once again anti-equality lawmakers are looking to pass a ‘Slate of Hate’--pushing a dozen anti-LGBTQ measures that would not only discriminate against LGBTQ Tennesseans, but also other marginalized communities. HRC and our coalition partner, Tennessee Equality Project, are watching closely and preparing to fight back against these bills as they move in the legislature.

Recently, HRC staff was on the ground at the Cordell Hull Legislative Building to attend Tennessee Equality Project’s first Advancing Equality on the Hill Day. We learned about and spoke out about several bills, including:

  • SB 1282/HB 1369, “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act;” legislation that would seek to defy the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges  that same-sex marriage the law of the land.
  • Legislation known locally as the “Business License to Discriminate” bills, SB 264/HB 563 has returned and if passed, would enshrine taxpayer-funded discrimination into law by prohibiting cities and state agencies from implementing policies that stop taxpayer funds from being used by businesses, organizations and contractors to discriminate against LGBTQ people in employment policies.
  • Another repeat bill filed, SB 1499/HB 1274, would require the Tennessee Attorney General to either pay for legal costs or itself defend discriminatory anti-transgender school policies - an obvious attempt to encourage school districts who want to deny transgender students access to the correct bathrooms and locker rooms in K-12 schools to do so.
  • SB 1297/HB 1151 have been introduced in the legislature and if passed, would impose criminal penalties on transgender and nonbinary people who use restrooms and locker rooms.
  • Several license to discriminate in the provision of child welfare services bills have been introduced, SB 1304/HB 836 and SB 848/HB 1152. If passed, these bills would allow adoption and foster care agencies to turn away qualified Tennesseans seeking to care for a child in need, including LGBTQ couples, interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced, or other parents to whom the agency has a religious objection.

We’ve seen the impact of passing discriminatory legislation in North Carolina and across the country. These measures will not only discriminate against Tennesseans, but open the state of Tennessee to extensive litigation and force taxpayers to pay the cost of discrimination.

HRC will continue working with the Tennessee Equality Project to oppose discriminatory legislation that targets LGBTQ Tennesseans. If you live in Tennessee and would like to make your voice heard, join HRC & Tennessee Equality Project at Cordell Hull Legislative Building on March 5 for the next Advancing Equality on the Hill Day or contact Hope Jackson, HRC Associate Regional Field Director at hope.jackson@hrc.org.