Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has signed a law forbidding local governments from creating their own anti-discrimination laws—like, for example the recent Nashville measure banning employers from discriminating against gay and lesbian applicants. A Haslam spokesman says the Republican governor had mixed feelings about “telling local governments what to do, but he also had concerns about local governments telling businesses what to do,” according to the Tennessean.
The bill passed the state’s Republican-led legislature easily, and initially had the backing of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce. But the Chamber backed off after seeing the controversy the bill engendered. Gay rights groups vigorously opposed it. “The Tennessee Chamber supports a standard regulatory environment at the state level as opposed to potentially conflicting local regulations,” its executive committee said yesterday. But “because (the bill) has turned into a debate on diversity … which we support, we are now officially opposing this legislation.”