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Campaigners urge Governor not to sign Tennessee's new hateful anti-LGBTI legislation

The legislation has gone to Governor Bill Haslam for signing: advocates say it is a challenge to the SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage

Campaigners urge Governor not to sign Tennessee's new hateful anti-LGBTI legislation
Bill Haslam | Facebook
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam

It’s no secret or surprise that conservative states are hostile towards LGBTI folks. The latest in this anti-LGBTI hatred comes from Tennessee.

Yesterday, the Tennessee Senate voted to pass HB 111, a piece of legislation that would undermine protections for both women and LGBTI people in the state. LGBTI advocates say it is an attempt to challenge the U.S Supreme Court’s decision about marriage equality.

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), ‘The measure would require that courts and agencies apply a so-called ‘natural’ meaning interpretation of gendered statutory language, including those involving the rights of husbands and wives. This unconstitutional proposal would be in direct conflict with state and federal law that requires gender-specific words be interpreted as gender-inclusive.’

GLAAD posted a video to Twitter yesterday of Tennessee Senator Briggs claiming LGBTI parents were ‘not natural’ during this particular Senate meeting:

GLAAD says that although the legislation has been passed, it could be vetoed by Tennessee Governor Bill Hasam. They are urging him to do so.

‘With the entire nation watching, Gov. Haslam should veto this bill which is not only bad for business, but would set a dangerous precedent that could place the well-being of LGBTQ Tennesseans in jeopardy,’ said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD.

HRC also warns that this bill could have both intended and unintended consequences.

‘For example, a woman may not be able to place her wife’s name on the birth certificate of their child. In court proceedings, a married opposite-sex couple could be entitled to confidential communications, but not a married same-sex couple. The measure could even prohibit surrogacy for same-sex couples,’ HRC writes.

‘It could have consequences beyond the LGBTQ community as well. It would impact state constitutional protections for women by prohibiting state courts from reading the term ‘man’ to also include ‘woman.’

The Tennessee law requiring no ‘man’s’ services or property be taken without consent or compensation, for example, could suddenly be interpreted to exclude women from these same protections.’

Tennessee’s Attorney General, Herbert Slatery, shared his opinion that HB 111 could conflict with existing state laws.

‘It is possible, but unlikely, that this proposed legislation could be viewed as a violation of the separation-of-powers doctrine embodied in the Tennessee Constitution,’ Slatery says.

HRC has been working with the Tennessee Equality Project, the ACLU of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition to prevent HB 111 from becoming law.