Tag Archives: anti-discrimination

Judge Leaves State Discrimination Law Intact; Plaintiffs Appealing

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An attorney for plaintiffs who have filed a lawsuit challenging a state law that overruled local protections for gay and lesbian workers said Wednesday that she will appeal a judge’s decision to dismiss the suit.
The Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act prohibits local governments from creating anti-discrimination regulations that are stricter than those of the state. The law nullified a Nashville ordinance that barred companies that discriminate against gays and lesbians from doing business with the city.
Plaintiffs claim the law is unconstitutional for several reasons, including stripping them of previous legal protections.
But Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy said last week that the plaintiffs did not satisfy standing requirements and ordered the lawsuit dismissed.
“The Court finds no justificable question is before it in this matter in that none of the plaintiff’s had standing,” she wrote.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Abby Rubenfeld said she believes the judge ignored certain arguments raised in the lawsuit and she plans to appeal.
For instance, Rubenfeld said one part of the statute “gratuitously redefines ‘sex’ for purposes of anti-discrimination laws so as to exclude all transgender persons.”
“She just flat out ignored it, although we briefed it and argued it,” Rubenfeld said.
Among the lawsuit’s plaintiffs is Lisa Howe, a former Belmont University soccer coach whose departure from the private Christian university was the impetus for the city’s ordinance.

Senate Approves ‘Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal that would prevent students from being discriminated against for expressing their religious beliefs has passed the Senate.
The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Kerry Roberts of Springfield was approved 29-0 on Wednesday. The companion bill is awaiting a vote on the House floor.
Roberts says the proposal requires school districts to treat a student’s religious expression the same as they would a secular viewpoint. Students would also have access to school facilities to organize student prayer groups or other religious gatherings.
Democratic Sen. Beverly Marrero of Memphis, who abstained from voting, questioned whether the bill is “trying to make schools similar to Sunday schools.”

Senate Kills Bill Reviving Nashville’s Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Senate panel has rejected efforts to roll back a bill barring local governments from enacting stricter anti-discrimination standards than those held by the state.
The State and Local Government committee on Tuesday voted 6-2 against the bill sponsored by Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis.
Gov. Bill Haslam last year signed into law a measure voiding a Nashville ordinance that barred companies that discriminate against gays and lesbians from doing business with the city.
Several large employers opposed the law, including FedEx, AT&T, Whirlpool, Comcast and Nissan.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville said his understanding of the state constitution is that nothing prevents the Legislature from setting guidelines for local governments.
Kyle responded that it wasn’t constitutional question, but one of stopping “bad policy.”

Religious Anti-Discrimination Bill Clears Senate Panel, Too

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal that would prevent students from being discriminated against for expressing their religious beliefs is headed for floor votes in both chambers of the Legislature.
The measure unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee 9-0 on Wednesday, a day after the companion bill was approved on a voice vote in the same committee in the House.
The legislation would require school districts to develop a so-called “student speaker policy” for school officials to follow.
Democratic Sen. Andy Berke of Chattanooga voted for the bill, but said lawmakers need to be careful putting their stamp of approval on legislation dealing with religion because of legal issues that may arise.
Stephen Smith, assistant commissioner for policy and regulation at the Tennessee Department of Education, says the proposal should be constitutionally defensible as long as a school isn’t deemed to be promoting a particular religion.

Lawsuit Filed Against Legislature’s Override of Nashville Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A lawsuit has been filed against a new state law that prohibits cities and counties from creating anti-discrimination regulations stricter than the state’s.
The law, signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam in May, repealed a Nashville city ordinance barring companies that discriminate against gays and lesbians from doing business with the city.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Monday in Davidson County Chancery Court include three Nashville council members who supported the ordinance and Lisa Howe, a former Belmont University coach who left the private university after revealing that she and her same-sex partner were having a baby.
Abby Rubenfeld, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said in a news conference that the statute unfairly targets gay and transgender Tennesseans.
A Haslam spokesman said it was inappropriate to comment on pending litigation.
Note: A news release distributed by the plaintiffs’ lawyer is below.

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