In 2009, when Karl Dean was Nashville’s mayor he signed into law an ordinance making “sexual orientations” and “gender identity” protected classes in Nashville’s non-discrimination employment policy. Two years later, Dean tried to require vendors wanting to do business with the Metro government to include the same LBGT protections in their employment policies.
Megan Barry was the Metro Council member that sponsored the 2009 ordinance which did not define the terms “sexual orientations” or “gender identity” which are generally understood to refer to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.
The ordinance passed by the Metro Council and signed into law by Dean continues to apply to all Metro employees including public school teachers.
Two years later, the Metro Council passed and Karl Dean signed the Contract Accountability Non-Discrimination Ordinance (CANDO) requiring any vendor seeking to do business with the Nashville government to also include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their employment non-discrimination policies.
The Tennessee General Assembly responded by passing the Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act which stopped Dean’s CANDO law. The legislature’s action stopped the over-regulating of businesses resulting from Dean’s CANDO law, but it has not slowed the LGBT agenda from advancing in Tennessee.
For example, despite efforts in 2016, by the Franklin County school board to discourage the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club at the high school, the club, organized under the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) umbrella, remains part of the high school community to “foster a safe environment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) students and their allies.”
GLSEN maintains a Tennessee chapter with a mission is to create LGBT inclusive K-12 schools.
PRIDE groups have established themselves across cities in Tennessee including Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga.
Nashville’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce has joined with Conexion Americas to focus attention on the needs and issues experienced by LGBT immigrants.
The TN-ACLU has been clear in saying that religious freedom should never prevail over the rights of LGBT individuals and took that position in the 2016 federal complaint filed against the Sumner County school district over its transgender bathroom policy. The TN-ACLU which promotes students activism around LGBT issues, is likely to challenge any other bathroom policy which they believe discriminates against a transgender student.
Tennessee Attorney General Herb Slatery and Governor Haslam, have not stepped forward to protect student privacy rights or the religious freedom rights of county clerks being forced to issue marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the Obergefell same-sex marriage case. Once the court ruled, Slatery directed county clerks to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses and Haslam issued a statement recognizing what was now “the law of the land.”
Similarly, when state legislators attempted to address student privacy rights with regard to bathroom and locker room use, neither Haslam nor the Attorney General would support legislative efforts. Instead, students can be forced to share school bathrooms and locker rooms with members of the opposite biological sex and school districts are left on their own todefended from a likely TN-ACLU lawsuit.
Last year Slatery further eroded the privacy and religious rights of conservatives by arguing in a same-sex divorce case involving the custody of a child, that the entire body of Tennessee’s state laws must be read to conform to the Obergefell decision. The Attorney General argued that the state code should be read with no gender differentiation regarding terms like husband and wife. So a “husband” or “wife” could be either a man or a woman.
Slatery has put the state on the slippery slope of sanctioning the transgender “father” who was able to give birth to two children by retaining “his” female biological reproductive ability and the transgender “mother” who also retained “her” needed male biological contribution.
In 2018, a bill intended to provide legal resources to help defend school districts that get sued over bathroom and locker room use policies, was criticized as being too costly and failed to pass out of all the committees in both the House and the Senate.
Tennessee’s next governor will not have the luxury of shying away from these issues as groups continue to push the agenda to change and redefine not just themselves but everyone else as well.
Karl Dean has already signed onto the full LGBT agenda and is not likely to relinquish any part of this should he be elected governor in November.