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Tennessee governor signs bill putting discrimination into law

WASHINGTON – In an apparent attempt to score cheap political points, Tennessee Gov. 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.

“Discrimination should have no place in the Volunteer State and the chamber’s opposition to this law sent a strong signal that corporations are on the leading edge of positive change,” said Joe Solmonese, HRC president. “In contrast Governor Haslam has put discrimination ahead of the state’s values and even business interests by signing this horrible legislation.”

Major corporations spoke out against the bill and in favor of workplaces that respect and welcome all individuals. Since the bill passed late last week, Aloca, FedEx, AT&T, KPMG, UnitedHealth Group, Whirlpool, Comcast and other companies publicly disavowed the bill.