In place of economic revitalization, legislators have clung like ticks to a severe and regressive social agenda and palmed it off as pro-business fervor. Why, we can't let cities set their own protections for GLBT workers, they say — Smyrna will no longer be able to trade with Murfreesboro! The bill's sponsor, Rep. Glen Casada, went so far as to advance the insane notion that if cities had their own laws, mom-and-pop businesses would be forced to hire staff lawyers. The Metro law exempts small businesses, a fact seemingly lost on the bill's supporters.
Ridley calls foul on the allegedly small-government Republicans:
But portraying the bill as pro-business was only a distraction from the truth: HB600 is a thorough betrayal of the small-government platitudes its proponents advanced on the campaign trail. The same legislators who blasted the intrusion of the federal government into state affairs have ruthlessly declared their sovereignty over Tennessee's municipal governments. And they have done so not to expand the basic rights of Tennessee citizens, but to prevent a segment of the populace from knowing full protection.
But it's the closing paragraphs that capture the magnitude of Haslam & Co.'s thinly veiled "fuck you" to the LGBT community:
Last week, NPT-Channel 8 showed Stanley Nelson's documentary Freedom Riders. Among its more tragicomic figures was former Alabama Gov. John Patterson — recorded in archival footage for the ages on the wrong side of history, clinging to segregation, allowing white mobs to beat and maul peace-abiding civil rights protesters. Interviewed today, Patterson looks sheepish and somewhat hollow — as if he'd been at a crossroads all those years ago, and he'd had five decades to reflect on making the wrong turn.
Less than six months into his term, Gov. Bill Haslam may have already signed his legacy.
Given the uproar on various social media, I'm guessing this isn't the last we've heard on the topic. Stay tuned ...