Posted by: Catherine Lugg | May 24, 2011

Tennessee bans civil rights protections for queers

Tennessee, historically a poor and backwards state, has decided to run hard with it’s cultural stereotype and has banned civil rights protections for LGBT people. According to one website:

Tennessee’s Legislature has passed SB 632/HB 600, a bill that prohibits cities and counties from banning discriminatory practices by any means. According to HRC, the bill prohibits localities from adopting anti-discrimination laws on any basis, including race, religion, sex and age, but it was motivated by an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in Nashville.

Because legislators took action based on their desire to limit the rights of a particular group—the LGBT community—the bill, if signed into law, will be vulnerable to legal challenges costing the state precious resources during tight economic times.

There is a US Supreme Court case on this point: Roemer v. Evans (1996). As Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority:

We must conclude that Amendment 2 classifies homosexuals not to further a proper legislative end but to make them unequal to everyone else. This Colorado cannot do. A State cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws. Amendment 2 violates the Equal Protection Clause, and the judgment of the Supreme Court of Colorado is affirmed.

The state of Tennessee is going to spend a lot of money in defending an ultimately unconstitutional law.

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