Metro anti-discrimination law reversed by Tennessee Legislature

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May 14, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tennessee: The Tennessee State Senate voted to pass the Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act, a bill which prevents local governments from requiring businesses to follow nondiscrimination rules that go beyond those setup in state law, on Thursday. This effectively overrules a decision by city leaders requiring contractors to follow Metro's new anti-discrimination law which protects gay, lesbian and transgendered people. The bill already passed the State House last month.[1]

The debate in the Senate was divided mainly along party lines. Republicans claimed that businesses need uniform rules, while Democrats contended that state lawmakers should not interfere in local decisions, especially those concerned with discrimination.

“When it comes to anti-discrimination practices, we need to have consistent rules across the state,” said Senator Jack Johnson.[1]

Senator Andy Berke said businesses could avoid the rules by refusing to sign city contracts. “It says if you choose to do business with a local municipality, you cannot discriminate,” he said. “People who don’t want to do that can choose not to do business.”[1]

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