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The Tennessee House Business subcommittee voted to advance HB 563, known locally as the “Business License to Discriminate” bill.
On February 26, the Tennessee House Business subcommittee voted to advance HB 563, known locally as the “Business License to Discriminate” bill. If passed, this dangerous bill 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.
HB 563 and its companion bill, SB 364, were pushed last year by Rep. Jason Zachary and former Sen. Mark Green. This year, Zachary is joined by Sen.Todd Gardenhire in the efforts to pass this far-reaching legislation.
Tennessee law does not provide protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. These bills seek to ensure that state and local agencies including universities, counties, and cities can not enforce nondiscrimination policies and requirements that are not explicitly covered under Tennessee law. Further, this legislation would mean that organizations and businesses would face no penalties for discriminating against LGBTQ people in their employment policies.
Under this measure, discriminatory actions like these would be permissible under state law:
HRC will continue to monitor this bill and other proposed anti-equality legislation and support the local work of our partners at Tennessee Equality Project. These attacks on equality in Tennessee are part of a repeated effort to target LGBTQ Tennesseans year after year.
HRC will be on the ground next week to join the Tennessee Equality Project for the second Advancing Equality Day on the Hill in Nashville on March 5. If you would like to get involved, please RSVP for lobby day here or reach out to HRC Associate Regional Field Director Hope Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact your elected officials and let them know that you oppose any bill that discriminates against LGBTQ Tennesseans, click here.