HB 30 Requires Drag Artists to Obtain Permit Before Performing; HB 878 Allows Government Employees Whose Job Includes Solemnizing Marriages to Refuse to Marry Any Couples Based on Religious Beliefs
Nashville, Tennessee – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) condemned the Tennessee House for passing two more anti-LGBTQ+ bills on Monday night. HB 30 is an anti-drag bill that requires drag artists to obtain a permit before performing, and HB 878 allows government employees whose job includes solemnizing marriages to refuse to marry any couples based on religious beliefs. Both bills now head to the Senate for consideration, where they are expected to pass.
Governor Lee signed two different anti-LGBTQ+ bills into law less than a week ago, making Tennessee the first state ever to criminalize drag performances on public property or any location where people under 18 could be present, and the fifth state to enact a law banning age-appropriate, best practice gender-affirming care for trans youth. Since 2015, Tennessee has enacted more anti-LGBTQ+ laws than any other state in the country - including two bathroom bans, three laws preventing transgender students from playing sports consistent with their gender identity, a law allowing discrimination by state contractors providing child welfare services paid for with taxpayer funds, curriculum censorship bills, and more. Tennessee’s attack on LGBTQ+ people has been unrelenting and has made Tennessee an increasingly difficult place for LGBTQ+ people to survive, let alone thrive.
Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow released the following statement on these discriminatory bills:
“Extremist Tennessee lawmakers are unrelenting in their discriminatory attacks on the LGBTQ+ community. Instead of focusing on the issues that Tennesseans actually care about, radical politicians are wasting their time and using their power to target the LGBTQ+ community - from same sex couples, to transgender youth, to drag artists. These bills are not about protecting children and they are not about religious freedom. They are about stripping away the basic human rights that LGBTQ+ people have fought for over decades, forcing LGBTQ+ people, particularly transgender and non-binary people, back in the closet and labeling us as dangerous. We urge the Tennessee Senate to reject these discriminatory, hateful bills.”
Tennessee Equality Project Executive Director Chris Sanders released the following statement on these discriminatory bills:
“The Tennessee House of Representatives continues to be one of the most dangerous legislative chambers in the country for LGBTQ+ people. They have ignored constituents in their offices, phone calls, and compelling committee testimony. It is time they became the People's House again.”
This week, HRC is taking the fight directly to Tennessee Gov. Lee’s doorstep: Announcing a Nashville rally set for Thursday and releasing a full-page ad in The Tennessean which features an image of the governor dressed in drag. Both the Nashville rally and the full-page ad aim to illuminate both the hypocrisy of the governor’s actions and the urgent need for Tennesseans to push back against the continued legislative assault on LGBTQ+ people.
Three months into 2023, HRC is already tracking more than 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. 175 of those would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date.
So far this year, HRC is tracking:
More than 100 bills that would prevent trans youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; four have already become law, in Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah.
More bathroom ban bills filed than in any previous year,
And 28 anti-LGBTQ+ bills which have passed at least one chamber, 10 of which are specifically anti-trans.
THE FACTS ABOUT DRAG BANS
The dangerous practice of banning LGBTQ+ events, spaces, and culture – including drag performances – is part of a large-scale attack on the LGBTQ+ community and an attempt to put LGBTQ+ people, particularly transgender and non-binary people, back in the closet and labeled as dangerous.
Last year alone, politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022 and 29 passed into law. The majority of the discriminatory bills – 149 bills – targeted the transgender and non-binary community and youth. Less than two months into 2023, HRC is already tracking 340 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. 150 of those would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date. Of the approximately 90 bills filed this year that would prevent transgender youth from being able to access best practice, medically necessary care, SB 613 is among the most egregious.
Nearly 1 in 5 of any type of hate crime is now motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias and the last two years have been the deadliest for transgender people, especially Black transgender women, we have seen since we began tracking fatal violence against the community. Reports of violence and intimidation against LGBTQ+ people have been making news across the country – with white nationalists targeting a Pride event in Idaho and Proud Boys crashing Drag Queen story hours at local libraries to shout homophobic and transphobic slurs. Finally, anti-LGBTQ+ stigma also drives alarmingly high rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. 45% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, but LGBTQ+ youth who have at least one accepting adult in their life were 40% less likely to attempt suicide.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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