Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has
defended signing a bill into law that bars cities and municipalities
from enacting gay protection laws even as activists vow to challenge
the law in court.
The measure, signed Monday, forbids
local governments from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances that
go beyond state laws, which do not include gay protections.
Haslam said the law would make
Tennessee an easier place to conduct business.
“We just don't think local
governments should set HR [human resources] policies for business,”
The law overturns Nashville's 2009
ordinance which bans employment discrimination based on sexual
orientation and gender identity (transgender protections).
State lawmakers acted after the city
approved a plan to require contractors doing business with the city
to abide by the ordinance.
“The one thing that business must
have is consistency to survive and thrive,” Republican
Representative Glen Casada, who sponsored the House version of the
bill, told The Wall Street Journal.
“The law must be challenged in
court,” said Kate Kendell, executive director of the San
Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights.
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
“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.