In a vote of 68-22, the Tennessee House passed a bill Thursday preventing state and local agencies from discriminating against a business entity’s internal policies.
The legislation seeks to prevent universities, counties, and local agencies from implementing nondiscrimination policies against companies that have their own internal policies. These internal policies include discrimination against LGBTQ populations. LGBTQ rights organizations are concerned that the bill would give business entities a right to discriminate and have access to tax-payer funding provided by state and local agencies.
The bill outlines that state and local agencies cannot take discriminatory action against a business if they are compliant with state and federal statutes including health insurance policies, family leave policies, minimum wage policies, and anti-discrimination policies. The problem is that Tennessee law currently doesn’t provide discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community, so business entities would have a tax-payer funded right to bar members of that community from their business’ services.
These services could include providing grants to shelter organizations that refuse to serve LGBTQ groups, bonds for hospitals that refuse to grant visitation rights to same-sex couples, counseling centers that don’t serve veterans or youth, or nursing homes that don’t provide inclusive care to transgender clients.
The legislation will now proceed to the state Senate for a vote.