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Nashville LGBT Businesses Get Legally Recognized

Nashville Mayor David Briley signed an executive order this week making LGBT-owned businesses a preference in Metro procurement and contracting. Nashville is the first city in the South to do this.

Said Briley, “We want to make sure that in this moment of prosperity, that no matter who you love or what you look like or no matter what your background or gender . . . you have a level playing field and fair shot at prosperity.”

Regrettably, contrary to the mayor’s stated intent, the executive order will result in preferences for LGBT-owned businesses and discriminate negatively against all others. Moreover, this will affect businesses located in other cities that do business with Nashville.

For the last two years, Family Action of Tennessee, the legislative arm of The Family Action Council of Tennessee, worked on legislation that would have prevented this kind of bias. It passed the Senate, but the effort failed in a House subcommittee. The bill has been reintroduced this year as Senate Bill 364/House Bill 569.

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Does Tennessee’s Attorney General Suffer From a New Condition Called ‘Transetymologicalism’?

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery can’t seem to figure out the word “sex” when it comes to interpreting Tennessee law.

Yesterday, The Tennessean reported that Attorney General Slatery had issued an opinion stating that a law passed in 2000 and referring to “gender” but making no reference to “sex” included the modern-day concept of “transgenderism.”

In arriving at this conclusion, the attorney general ignored the fundamental canon of statutory construction that courts are “to give words the meaning they had at the time the document was adopted.” Eighteen years ago, no legislator (FACT’s president being one of them) thought they were codifying the unfamiliar modern concept of “transgenderism.” “Transgenderism” back then would have been considered the medical condition known as gender dysphoria.

What’s ironic is that the quote about statutory construction comes from a brief that Slatery submitted to the United States Supreme Court last year in a Title VII case, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, that he now relies on to justify change to the meaning of “gender” from a singular word embracing the concept of biological males or females to a word embracing “transgenderism.”

That the word “sex” is not in the statute he construed is itself evidence the Legislature intended the word “gender” to be an equivalent for the sex binary of male and female. Moreover, in a brief submitted to a state court, Slatery’s office said the word “gender” in another statute that actually governs the construction of statutes refers to males and females, his purpose there being to ensure our clerks issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples without any change in the wording of our licensing statutes.

When it comes to the meaning of words (known as etymology), it seems that Slatery suffers from a new psychological condition FACT’s president dubbed “transetymologicalism,” an irrepressible desire to give words a fluid meaning transcending their intended meaning depending on the outcome the user wants.

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New York Governor Hopes to Lift Ban on Commercial Surrogacy

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo—fresh from signing legislation allowing abortions even if the infant is born alive—said that he would ask the Legislature to repeal the law banning paid surrogacy contracts that his father, Gov. Mario Cuomo, put in place in 1992.

If passed, the Child-Parent Security Act (CPSA) would allow New Yorkers to pay a woman to carry to term a child conceived through in-vitro fertilization. Surrogates can get paid as much as $50,000 to carry a baby to term. This LGBT-supported bill would also expand the definition of parent to include same-sex parents.

“New York’s antiquated laws frankly are discriminatory against all couples struggling with fertility, same sex or otherwise,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This measure rights this wrong and creates a new and long-overdue path for them to start families . . .”.

However, Kathleen Gallagher, the New York Catholic Conference director of pro-life activities, said, “This is the buying and selling of children and the exploitation of women. There are going to be poor women exploited by wealthy couples.”

Beyond making children a commodity, Gov. Cuomo’s legislation would be putting a stamp of approval on the creation of families in which the child is intentionally deprived of a mother for the emotional well-being of adults.

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U.S Supreme Court Asked to Determine Personhood in Colorado Embryo Case

Are embryos people or property? This is the question before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Colorado embryo custody case Rooks v. Rooks.

Mandy Rooks, the mother of six cryopreserved babies produced by in-vitro fertilization, wants custody of her children and wants the option to produce more full-term babies in the future, but her ex-husband, Drake, wants the embryos destroyed.

The lower courts awarded Mr. Rooks custody of the embryos for destruction, but the Colorado Supreme Court stayed that decision. However, Thomas More Society Special Counsel Rebecca Messall is asking that SCOTUS accept the case and affirm that embryos are human beings and not property that can be disposed of at will.

States Messall in the appeal to the high court, “Granting human embryos the status of persons cannot be left up to fifty states, any more than the Kansas-Nebraska Act could leave the status of slaves to each state. The test of who is a ‘person’ must be decided for the entire nation in order to uphold the principles of ‘Equal Justice Under Law.’”

A decision from the United States Supreme Court on whether it will consider the case is expected by February 25.

The personhood debate is nothing new. In Davis v. Davis, the Tennessee Supreme Court examined this same question and concluded that an embryo was neither a person nor property, but rather an aggregate of cells or a “preembryo.”

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Iowa Christian Leaders Club Wins Religious Liberty Case

Christian student group Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC), which required its leaders to embrace Christian religious tenets, won its case against the University of Iowa, which had stripped the group of its registered student organization status for denying a leadership position to an openly gay student who expressly rejected the group’s religious tenets.

While the university claimed that BLinC violated the school’s Human Rights Policy, the Christian student group argued that it was simply following its strongly held religious beliefs. A district court in Iowa ruled that the university had violated the club’s First Amendment rights to free speech, expressive association, and free exercise of religion.

Said BLinC president Jake Estell, “This victory reinforces the commonsense idea that universities can’t target religious student groups for being religious.”

Because of this latest ruling, this student group, along with 32 other religious student groups who had been censored by the school administration, will permanently remain on campus.

In 2013, Family Action of Tennessee led the effort to prevent Tennessee’s public university’s from doing what the Univerity of Iowa did.

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