Since its inception, FACT has been leading the fight to ensure that our state’s public policy reflects God’s design for human sexuality to the fullest extent possible. There is no doubt that laws that undermine God’s norms for human sexuality lead to cultural mainstreaming of sexual license and confusion.
This, in turn, leads to cultural and legal pressures to restrict religious liberty, another area in which FACT has worked extensively.
As Chai R. Feldblum, former law professor and current member of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, once famously said, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.” So restraining licentiousness and confusion in this area is imperative.
Restricting Adult Entertainment Businesses in Tennessee
Because many local communities were not prepared to address adult entertainment businesses when they suddenly popped up, FACT and its legislative arm, Family Action of Tennessee, worked with legal experts in 2007—FACT’s very first legislative session—to pass one of the few statewide zoning laws regulating the location of adult entertainment businesses.
In 2008 FACT held multiple briefings across the state for local government officials to educate them about the new law and how they could adopt local regulations that would further curtail the proliferation of adult entertainment businesses in their communities.
Restricting Sexual Orientation Laws
Then in 2011, FACT recognized the fact that on a national level a number of local governments were going beyond state law to force private businesses to change their personnel policies to provide new, special legal protections to employees based on the employee’s sexual practices. When the issue raised its head in Nashville in connection with a decision by Belmont University relative to a lesbian soccer coach, FACT’s legislative arm went to work.
Family Action of Tennessee drafted and helped guide through the Legislature a first-in-the-nation law that prohibited local governments from creating civil rights laws with “protected classes” that went beyond those already protected by state law. Eventually, gay-rights advocates sued over the law, arguing it was unconstitutional. However, the law had been drafted in anticipation of such a lawsuit, and in November 2014, the Tennessee Court of Appeals threw the lawsuit out of court, putting an end to the legal challenge.
Taking on City Hall in Chattanooga
They say you “can’t fight city hall,” but don’t say that too loudly in FACT’s offices or to the good people of Chattanooga!
In 2013 the City of Chattanooga narrowly passed an ordinance that wrote sexual orientation into the city’s employment policies. It became the first major city in Tennessee to do so.
In response, FACT called on ministers and Christian lay leaders in the city to come together to pray about how its citizens should respond. Out of that prayer time, some leaders in the city began to network with others and, miraculously, in a matter of 14 days, including the Thanksgiving weekend, enough citizens in Chattanooga signed a petition to put the ordinance on the ballot.
In the August 2014 election, the people of the city voted 63% – 37% to repeal the ordinance. It marked the first time in the nation that a law supported by the LGBT community had been repealed. Subsequently, cities in other states reconsidered their actions in adopting pro-LGBT policies.
Keeping the Focus on Bullies, Not Sex
Generally speaking, the development of bullying policies for public schools has been left up to local school districts, but every couple of years the ACLU and LGBT advocacy organizations have tried to change state law to require that local policies shift their emphasis from the conduct of the bully to the characteristics of the victim, particularly the victim’s sexual practices.
But FACT’s legislative arm has been able to beat back those efforts and will continue its fight to keep the focus on the bully’s conduct, not the victim’s sexual activities.
Thanks to your faithful prayers and generous financial support, we have come a long way in a decade to stand in the gap and advocate for life, family, marriage, and religious liberty in our state.