Tennessee, Open for Discrimination

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Yesterday, Tennessee’s Governor signed HB 600 into law. This bill–with the appropriately Orwellian title “Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act”–“effectively reverses an ordinance passed by [Nashville] Metro Council that required contractors with the city to agree to follow Metro’s rules barring discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgendered people.”

The new law prohibits local governments in Tennessee from adopting nondiscrimination ordinances that are broader than the state nondiscrimination law, which covers only “race, creed, color, religion, sex, age or national origin.” (Tenn. Code section 4-21-102(4)) The new law also nullifies any local law with broader protections that was in force prior to HB 600’s enactment. It goes further to adopt a specific definition of “sex” for purposes of the state nondiscrimination law that includes only “the designation of an individual person as male or female as indicated on the individual’s birth certificate.”

-Tony Infanti

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