Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam on Monday signed a bill into law that bars cities and municipalities from enacting gay protection laws.

The bill enjoyed wide support in both chambers of the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The move came after the City of Nashville approved 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).

Monday's action bars cities and municipalities from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances that go beyond state laws, which do not include gay protections.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights group, called Haslam's approval “an apparent attempt to score cheap political points.”

“Since there are no state protections for sexual orientation or gender identity, the Governor’s signature of this bill becomes a green light for anti-LGBT discrimination across the state,” Solmonese said in a statement.

Supporters of the measure argued that equalizing state and local laws would make Tennessee an easier place to conduct business.

But in a video ad promoting the bill's passage released by the Christian conservative Family Action Council of Tennessee, the group says the law is needed to keep women and children safe from male sexual predators masquerading as women in public restrooms.

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.”