Voters in Tennessee must live charmed lives and enjoy universal prosperity if their elected officials can squander time enacting laws to keep the state's LGBTQ citizens "in their place" (a historically racist concept newly embraced by the country's religious fanatics). After all, it's not as if literally tens of thousands of Tennesseans are impoverished, right? Everything in the Volunteer State is hunky-dory if you're a wealthy white evangelical with good health insurance. Never mind the low ranking of public schools there, or that unwed pregnancies and STDs among Tennessee teens are rampant, or that for many residents basic medical care is an impossible dream. MyFoxMemphis reports: First, it was a Senate Bill prohibiting teachers from teaching anything but heterosexuality before the ninth grade. (You've heard this described as the "Don't Say Gay" law.) Now, a bill has already been passed that does not allow homosexuality and gender identity from discrimination in cities and counties. (The measure effectively overturns a decision by the Memphis City Council to treat all of its citizens fairly.) From the Human Rights Campagn: In an apparent attempt to score cheap political points, Tenn. Governor Bill Haslam has ignored the business community and signed into law a bill that wipes out county and city anti-discrimination laws, despite the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry reversing their earlier support and now opposing the bill. The measure – SB 632/HB 600 – passed the legislature last week and was designed to remove protections for LGBT Tennesseans by prohibiting cities and counties from enacting discrimination bans. Since there are no state protections for sexual orientation or gender identity, the Governor’s signature of this bill becomes a green light for anti-LGBT discrimination across the state.
There is a sinister undercurrent to Tennessee's recent torrent of anti-gay legislation that flies in the face of freedom and devalues the American experience. As local economies circle the toilet, the "Christian values" crowd may come to regret the decisions of their mean-spirited lawmakers.
Over at AmericaBlog, John Aravosis provides a comprehensive overview of which major corporations sat on their hands while the state's Chamber of Commerce colluded with conservative pols to sully Tennessee's image as a good place to conduct business. These companies could have should have spoken out decisively against the GOP's hateful political posturing. Most of them didn't. They offered too little support for equality, much too late.