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COMMENTARY: Time to make anti-gay states pay for their institutional discrimination

Aren’t you getting tired of Red States taking away human rights?

Can you believe that the great Southern state of Tennessee, known for the Grand Old Opry and the Memphis blues, and which once repeatedly elected Democrat Al Gore to the U.S. Senate, has added anti-gay discrimination onto its state law books? The Volunteer State is now the laughingstock of the nation because it now allows discrimination against LGBT people.

When did the KKK take over Tennessee’s legislature?

The Republican-controlled legislature had a hissy fit when the Nashville Metro Council passed an ordinance that required contractors with the city to bar LGBT discrimination. So the lawmakers voted overwhelmingly for a bill that essentially overrules any local laws that might try to ban LGBT discrimination. Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, signed the discriminatory bill into law.

“Governor Haslam has put discrimination ahead of the state’s values and even business interests by signing this horrible legislation,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Amen! Isn’t it time to boycott Tennessee?

Meanwhile, in the upper Midwest, Minnesota lawmakers have voted to place on the 2012 ballot a measure that would seek to ban marriage equality via the state constitution. This is the proud state that elected liberal Democrats like Hubert H. Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Al Franken to the U.S. Senate as well as conservatives like Rep. Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty, the former governor.

Sen. Franken on Monday blasted the Minnesota ballot measure.

“Every Minnesotan deserves dignity and equal treatment under the law, and our state’s same-sex couples should have the same right to marry as anyone else — period,” Franken said. “This amendment would do nothing more than write discrimination into our state’s constitution and add to the barriers same-sex couples already face to the full recognition of their families. I’m hopeful that common sense and compassion will prevail and that this amendment will be defeated.”

Also yesterday, the White House weighed in on the Minnesota ballot issue, issuing this statement on behalf of President Barack Obama:

“The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples or to take such rights away. While he believes this is an issue best addressed by the states, he also believes that committed gay couples should have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country.”

When did the Land of 10,000 Lakes become so bigoted? Isn’t it time to boycott Minnesota?

These are only two examples of the struggle for equal rights in the U.S. LGBT rights are human rights, and to legalize discrimination is not only unethical but unconstitutional.