I thought the new convention center was a stupid idea, when it was proposed. But, you know, once they started digging that hole, I thought it behooved all Nashvillians to throw our support behind it. It may not work, but there's nothing good for our city that comes from a bunch of us getting to stand around and say "I told you so."
The amount of money we've sunk into this, the risk we've put our bond ratings in — this thing has got to work.
So the last thing we needed was for Haslam to sign HB600/SB632 just as the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry was publicly backtracking from their lobbying for the bill.
See, here's the problem companies in the Chamber have — no one believes they didn't know this bill was designed to allow people who do business with Nashville to openly discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. The timing was clear. Rep. Glen Casada, one of the bill's sponsors, darted around Nashville having secret meetings with business people right after Metro approved its measure, assuring the folks who objected on bigoted grounds that he would find a way to upend the measure. And activists locally and nationally have been telling them for at least a month what the bill, now law, is designed to do.
So while it's nice that so many companies in the Chamber came out against the bill, now law, in the last couple of days, and it's lovely that the Chamber withdrew its support, it rings hollow, since the Chamber withdrew its support after the governor signed the bill into law and no one believes their spin on it.
Which means those companies are going to have to do something to show folks across the country that they are seriously opposed to this law.
You see how this goes bad for Nashville, right? Already, there are rumblings of boycotts — of the state and of the corporations who lobbied for this bill until they got caught. What better way to prove that they're really serious about being opposed to what Tennessee has done than to avoid letting Tennessee benefit from any meetings or conferences they might need to hold in a nice, new convention center?
We need to make sure that the message that we, the city of Nashville, tried to do the right thing even if the state did not stays in the forefront in the coming months, or this could get very ugly for us as a city*.
*Which is not to downplay how terribly ugly this bill is for us as individuals.