Anti-Non-Discrimination, or Legal Discrimination

What the hell is going on in this country? While I find most of my students are surprised – and appalled – that there is no federal non-discrimination legislation that includes LGBTQs, states are now passing amendments to prevent any cities or towns in that state from passing any.

That is, states are passing legislation that makes it illegal to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.


Bill Headed to Vote in State Senate Would Gut Nashville’s Anti-LGBT Discrimination Ordinance

In a letter to Tennessee state Senators, TLDEF and the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) raised concerns about the constitutionality of a proposed bill that would make it unlawful for any city or town in the state to pass a law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Tennesseans from discrimination. If this sounds familiar, it should. We recently faced a similar bill in Montana.

Senate Bill 632 – which today passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee by a vote of 6-3 – would strike down local legal protections from discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Tennesseans, and would make it impossible to pass such protections in the future. It previously passed the House of Representatives (where it was known as House Bill 600) on April 25 by a vote of 73-24. It is expected to be voted upon in the full Senate shortly.

On April 5, 2011, the Nashville and Davidson County Metropolitan Council passed an anti-discrimination ordinance which bars the Nashville government from doing business with any entity that does not prohibit discrimination in employment against LGBT workers. Mayor Karl Dean signed it into law three days later. SB 632 was immediately rushed through the Tennessee House of Representatives by opponents of Nashville’s anti-discrimination ordinance. Their goal was to strike down Nashville’s ordinance and ensure that no city or town in Tennessee could ever enact a law protecting LGBT Tennesseans from discrimination again.

SB 632 is motivated by bias, which is a constitutionally impermissible basis for legislation. It would deprive LGBT Tennesseans of their right to participate in the political process and seek help from their local governments. It would turn lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Tennesseans into strangers to Tennessee’s government and would violate constitutional guarantees of equal protection under established United States Supreme Court precedent.

“Tennesseans have spoken through their local governments and have stated clearly that they want to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Tennesseans from discrimination,” said TLDEF executive director Michael Silverman. “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Tennesseans want the same right to live and work free from discrimination that everyone else enjoys. It is unconstitutional for Tennessee to target them by taking away their right to pass local laws that protect them from the discrimination that they face in the cities and towns where they live,” he added. “Tennessee must treat all Tennesseans equally. It violates the Constitution when it closes its doors to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Tennesseans simply because some people do not like them.”

“This bill is blatantly discriminatory,” said TTPC President Dr. Marisa Richmond. “It is an attempt to deny basic rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Tennesseans and we hope that the Senate will defeat it when it comes up for a vote.”

I’m really starting to wonder if I live in the US anymore. This kind of thinking seems antithetical to what I was always taught was American.

We need a national ENDA, and we need one with teeth.

5 Replies to “Anti-Non-Discrimination, or Legal Discrimination”

  1. It always amuses me how conservatives are for “small government” and “local control,” unless they want to take away someone else’s rights, in which case they’ll try to pass a state or federal law stripping powers from smaller, local governments. Appalling.

    I’m really starting to wonder if I live in the US anymore. This kind of thinking seems antithetical to what I was always taught was American.

    It is antithetical, because these people are fascists. I know that word has been misused and abused, but I don’t know how else to describe authoritarians who want preemptive wars, discriminate against minority groups, allow large corporations to run the government, and wrap it all up in patriotism and a weird evangelism. And when I say this to people, they tell me I’m over-reacting — bullshit.

    Sinclair Lewis nailed it: “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”

  2. Yes.. it’s facism. It is certainly irrational, contra to everything that is good in America: democracy, individual rights, non-discrimination, tolerance. These people need to be opposed with every ounce we can muster…!

  3. The good news is we also have positive legislation being considered in other states such as Nevada.

    A personal fav quote: “Sen. Ben Kieckhefer of Reno was the sole Republican to support the bill in the 11-10 vote, saying he didn’t like telling businesses what to do, but “discrimination offends my sense of right and wrong.””

  4. As times get tougher, those in power need to create diversions to compensate for failings, due to their own inability when facing difficult times. The more vulnerable minorities make great scapegoats for all the ills a society faces despite the lack of commonsense behind the belief. This is exactly what the Nazi’s did and unfortunately it’s not just the US facing this undercurrent now.

    Attempts to awaken this beast are a sign of a dark era ahead if successful. Anyone callous enough to support this type of legislation doesn’t give a damn about anyone or the ramifications for the future of a nation.

    All minorities should take heed. Solidarity is required to defeat these attitudes. It’s trans gender’s today, religious minorities and others tomorrow, they don’t really care who they persecute as long as it takes the heat off them. Remember: The sum of all the minorities equals a majority!

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