The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce – chaired by Nissan, and whose other board members include such companies as Nissan, FedEx, AT&T;, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG, Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare – actively lobbied for a religious right bill in the Tennessee legislature that would rescind Nashville’s civil rights protections for its gay and trans citizens, and which bans every city in Tennessee from passing any civil rights laws, for anyone, ever again.
The bill passed yesterday. It’s on its way to the state’s Republican governor for his signature, unless he vetoes it.
And these companies led the way in making it happen. And let me reiterate, these companies aren’t just members of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce. These compares are all on the board of directors of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce. They run the TN Chamber.
Joe and I just launched a campaign to pressure the governor to veto the bill, and to punish every company involved in making this bigoted legislation happen. Please join our campaign today and sign this open letter to the companies involved. We’re going to be writing a lot about this in the coming days.
Make no mistake, this was legislative gay-bashing at its worst. The legislation was crafted by the religious right in order to repeal Nashville’s new ordinance protecting gay and trans residents from discrimination. Apparently not discriminating against their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees was just too much to ask from Nissan, FedEx, AT&T;, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG. Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare. According to the TN chamber of commerce, of which they all sit on the board, abiding by such protections would be too much of an “additional burden.” Really? It’s now a burden to simply not discriminate against your own employees? I’m a lawyer, it’s really not that complicated of legal advice. Simply don’t discriminate against your employees. How complicated is that? So why would these companies, as board members of the TN chamber, permit their own organization to kill this gay and trans civil rights law?
And don’t for a minute buy the chamber’s excuse that this is about business, not prejudice. Every other minority is protected in the state under federal law. Gays and trans are not. The law was the idea of the religious right. The lead lobbyist on the law was the religious right. The only victim of the law was the LGBT community. This law was specifically written and intended to repeal Nashville’s new civil rights ordinance protecting gay and trans citizens, period.
Tell me again how this was only about business.
And don’t think that this is only about Tennessee. If the religious right, and their new corporate henchmen, are successful in repealing current, and banning future, gay rights law in Tennessee, they’ll do the same thing in every single state until only a handful of states protect our community.
After all, if the state of Texas were to pass a gay rights law and Tennessee didn’t have such a law, then it would be oh so confusing for these poor corporations, having one law in TX and another in TN, and they’d simply have to lobby the Texas legislature to repeal statewide civil rights protections too – right? And if some day America passes ENDA, but, say, Singapore has no such protections, imagine how confusing it would be for poor Nissan and FedEx to have two different laws in two different countries. I guess they’d have no choice but to oppose a federal ENDA too. After all, that is the logic of their “business” argument, isn’t it?
This has to stop now.
Nissan, FedEx, AT&T;, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG. Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare don’t know the meaning of pain. They just ticked off the wrong community.
Please sign our open letter to each of those companies, demanding they immediately withdraw their support for this hateful legislation, and that they tell the governor to veto the bill now.
This is only the first step. We are not going to let these companies get away with this. Stay tuned.
Local paper on bill passing, on its way to governor.
HRC on the legislature’s passage of the bill.
TN Chamber of Commerce fully supports bill and lobbied for it.
Board of Directors of the TN Chamber of Commerce.