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TN governor signs anti-gay bill that 13 major corporations lobbied in support of

Tuesday, May 24, 2011
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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday signed into law a bill that would prohibit local governments from creating anti-discrimination laws that are stricter than protections laid out by the state government.

Bill Haslam

The law targets a recently enacted Nashville ordinance that banned city contractors from discriminating against gay, lesbian and transgender people.

Supporters of the bill argued that it was necessary to keep discrimination rules the same in communities throughout Tennessee.

Under Tennessee state law it is illegal to discriminate against a person because of race, creed, color, religion, sex, age or national origin.

On April 5, the Nashville Metro Council adopted new rules that added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to its protected classes, prohibiting firms doing business with the city from discriminating against its LGBT citizens.

The new law overturns the Nashville ordinance, and prohibits all Tennessee municipalities from enacting similar protections for LGBT people.

Last week, AMERICAblog reported that 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 the bill.

Following the AMERICAblog report, Aloca, FedEx, AT&T, KPMG, UnitedHealth Group, Whirlpool, and Comcast all disavowed proposed law.

But earlier on Monday, just hours before Haslam signed the bill, AMERICAblog reported that all 13 companies were put on notice several weeks ago, by members of the Nashville city council, that the legislation they were lobbying for, via their roles on the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, would repeal Nashville’s civil rights ordinance.

The letter was delivered April 29, just days after the bill was passed in the House. None of the companies took action to stop the bill before it cleared the Senate on May 12.

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