The Tennessee Senate on Thursday
approved a bill that would repeal Nashville's newly-approved gay
The measure sponsored by Republican
Senator Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet was overwhelmingly approved in the
Republican-controlled Senate with a 21-8 vote. The House approved a
companion bill by a wide margin last month.
A minor change in the Senate version of
the bill means it has to go back to the House for approval.
Republican Governor Bill Haslam has indicated he supports the
Nashville narrowly approved last month
a plan to extend the city's gay protections to contractors, joining
more than 100 communities across the nation. The city's 2009 law
bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender
identity (transgender protections).
Beavers' measure would strip the state
of all gay protections laws by outlawing municipalities from enacting
anti-discrimination ordinances that go beyond state laws, which do
not include gay protections.
Supporters argued that equalizing state
and local laws makes Tennessee an easier place to conduct business.
But in a video ad released by the
Christian conservative Family Action Council of Tennessee, a
different pitch is made for the measure.
In the video, a gruff-looking man is
seen following a young girl into a playground restroom as a narrator
asks, “Do gender differences matter to you?” (The video is
embedded in the right panel of this page.)
“It's not any kind of statement that
those who are transgender or cross dress are sexual predators,” the
group's president, David Fowler, said in defending the ad. “It's
that sexual predators will know how to take advantage of those
opportunities afforded by law when the distinctions begin to get
blurred with respect [to] who's rightfully or not in a restroom.”