The bill that helped make sexy again the relationship between the Christian right and the state legislature's Republican majority is one vote away from the governor's desk, after passing a Senate committee yesterday.
SB 632/HB 600, or the euphemistic "Equal Access to Instrastate Commerce Act," passed the Senate's State and Local Government Committee on Monday in a 6-3 vote. Among the delighted are the Family Action Council's David Fowler, chief lobbyist for the bill, and House sponsor Glen Casada, who introduced the bill after a secret meeting with Nashville business- and religious-types at the Lifeway building downtown. There, the burgeoning coalition discussed ways to oppose Nashville's nondiscrimination ordinance, which requires city contractors to adopt Metro's policy of not discriminating against gay, lesbian and transgender workers. Where their blockheaded logic failed in Nashville, however, it seems to have succeeded at the Capitol: The takeaway from the Lifeway meeting was a campaign to make nondiscrimination into an anti-business tactic. Nothin' charms 'em like that.
The Nashville nondiscrimination law is likely to be overturned if the state bill meets final passage, as it bars local governments in Tennessee from enacting civil rights laws independent of the state's. Metro Councilman Jamie Hollin, a co-sponsor of the local nondiscrimination ordinance, offers his take here. A snippet:
It wouldn’t be as embarrassing if any of the arguments in support of the legislation held even a drop of water. They don’t. It’s been a campaign for the record books contrived on homophobia.
I am glad Nashville, for a limited time only, was able to show the world we are an inclusive city notwithstanding the acts of the majority of our state’s legislature. Options are being considered.
I look forward to the forthcoming data showing all the increased production of jobs and tax revenue as a result of its passage (at least the jobs saved as a result). The proponents of HB 600/SB 632 owe us that much.