Equal rights advocates are warning Tennessee lawmakers about consequences the state could face if they move forward with legislation that targets the LGBTQ community.
The General Assembly is considering about 10 measures that could impact whether LGBTQ people could adopt, or use a bathroom that matches their gender identity.
The following are excerpts from recent interviews:
Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, on why he is sponsoring HB1151, which adds locker rooms and bathrooms to the list of public places where people can be charged with indecent exposure:
"It's a fairly recent phenomena for people of a sex not specified on the door of a bathroom to be using that bathroom. At the time they first drafted the indecent exposure law that was created, that was unheard of."
Joe Woolley, chief executive officer of the Nashville LGBT Chamber, on how anti-LGBT bills can affect the state:
"Tennessee is on the brink of becoming the next North Carolina if we are not careful. Tennessee can't afford to face the economic consequences of passing laws that discriminate against LGBT people. Legislation that would embolden discrimination against anyone would send a message to conventions, corporations and meeting planners to look elsewhere."
Senate Speaker Randy McNally on how his chamber will handle these bills:
"I think we are just going to be sensitive to the effect that some of those might have on businesses and on events that could occur in Tennessee so we also want to be sensitive to the rights of individuals."
Some of the bills being considered:
HB1369/SB1282 — "Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act"
HB836/SB1304 —Allows privately licensed adoption agencies to refuse to place child with family based on religious beliefs
HB1274/SB1499 — expands the attorney general and reporter's duties to include representation of an LEA or certain LEA employees in a court or administrative tribunal arising out of the adoption of a policy requiring students, faculty, and staff to utilize the restroom, locker room, or other facility that corresponds to that individual's biological sex
Our ongoing conversations about Tennessee politics are available in The Tri-Star State podcast. You can listen by visiting wpln.org/tristar or subscribe using your favorite podcasting app.