Tennessee’s Slate of Hate Continues With More Anti-LGBTQ Bills To Fight

by Hope Jackson

Each year, Tennessee is at the top of the list of states introducing the most anti-LGBTQ legislation -- and this year is no different.

Each year, Tennessee is at the top of the list of states introducing the most anti-LGBTQ legislation --and this year is no different. Ten days into the legislative session, Governor Bill Lee signed HB 836 into law; making Tennessee the first state to pass an anti-LGBTQ bill in 2020. HB 836 provides a license to discriminate in the provision of child welfare services, allowing state contractors who provide taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care services to refuse to make child placements with qualified, loving families if the family doesn’t share all of the agency’s religious beliefs.   

A recent HRC survey also found Tennesseans’ broad opposition to anti-LGBTQ legislation in the state’s legislature. That’s why earlier this month, HRC joined the Tennessee Equality Project for Advancing Equality Day on the Hill to urge lawmakers to stop the attacks on LGBTQ Tennesseans.

Now that we’re past the bill filing deadline, it is clear that anti-equality lawmakers are intent on continuing the push to advance legislation that would negatively impact the lives of LGBTQ Tennesseans. Moreover, targeting transgender and non-binary youth --the most vulnerable and marginalized community. 

Here’s an awful picture of what we’re fighting against in Tennessee. 

Bills that would put the wellbeing of transgender youth at risk:

  • HB 1274/SB 1499, a rollover bill from the 2019 session, would require 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 bathroom;
  • HB 2575/SB 2215 are anti-transgender medical care bills that would criminalize medical doctors providing lifesaving and affirming care for transgender youth supported by leading medical authorities; 
  • HB 1572/SB 2077 and HB 1689/SB 1736 would prohibit schools from allowing transgender students to play in sports consistent with their gender identity by forcing to prove gender identity by presenting a birth certificate or genetic/DNA test results.

Bills that would defy the Supreme Court’s ruling that same-sex marriage is constitutional:

  • HB 2410/SB 2625 would attempt to circumvent marriage equality by establishing a new definition of secular marriage and repeal laws on issuance of license;  
  • HB 1369/SB 1282, rollover bills from 2019, known as the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act.

Bills that would diminish local government control and target the LGBTQ community:

  • HB 563/SB 364, also known as license to discriminate bills, would prohibit cities and state agencies from implementing policies that bar taxpayer funds from being used by businesses, organizations, contractors and grantees to discriminate against LGBTQ people in employment policies; 
  • HB 2721/SB 2896 prohibits libraries from providing Pride & LGBTQ displays and programming. 

HRC is proud to stand alongside Tennessee Equality Project and coalition partners to fight back against the growing slate of hate. If you live in Tennessee, we need your voice! Join HRC at Tennessee Equality Project’s upcoming Advancing Equality Day on the Hill on Tuesday, March 3, at 8:30 am. For more information, reach out to hope.jackson@hrc.org.