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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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Some House Committees Ban Legislators From Video Streaming During Meetings

Live video streaming of proceedings by legislators using their personal smartphones is being prohibited by some of the committee and subcommittee chairs in the Tennessee General Assembly. And this prohibition could also extend to the House floor.

Said House Speaker Glen Casada’s Chief of Staff Cade Cothren, “The chairmen that are choosing to do this are choosing to do so in order to make the legislative process run more smoothly both for themselves and for the public.”

Apparently, some members were not just streaming the event, which is already being streamed over the Legislature’s website, but they were commenting and editorializing on what they were streaming, creating a distraction among their colleagues while trying to discuss the bill and listen to testimony.

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Heartbeat Bill Gains Support of Key Legislative Leaders

Gov. Bill Lee and two of Tennessee’s top lawmakers, House Speaker Glen Casada and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, have announced their support for a bill introduced by Rep. Micah Van Huss that would ban an abortion as early as six weeks if a fetal heartbeat is found.

This is the third year that Van Huss has proposed such legislation because as he says, “One of our primary responsibilities as government is to keep our citizens safe. And the killing of our citizens need [sic] to stop.” While Van Huss will not rule out the possibility of minor amendments this year, he stated that it will either pass or fail as it is written.

This latest push comes on the heels of similar legislation that has either passed or is currently working through legislatures in other states. An Iowa judge recently struck down that state’s heartbeat bill holding that it violated the state’s constitution and federal courts have struck down similar laws several years ago.

However, Van Huss expressed optimism that the law would be upheld in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which includes Tennessee. “The Sixth Circuit is considered the most conservative circuit court in the country, so I’m hopeful if this legislation gets challenged that the Sixth Circuit would side with life,” says Van Huss.

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First Week of Legislative Session

The 111th Tennessee General Assembly began this week and the first order of business was the election of Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin) as the new Speaker of the House. We congratulate Speaker Casada and look forward to working with him. As expected, Sen. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) was reelected Speaker of the Senate, which also means he serves as our state’s Lt. Governor.

This week’s activity was filled mostly with organizational activity. The General Assembly will continue in organizational session next week in preparation for Governor-elect Bill Lee’s inauguration next Saturday, and likely the following week as well.

We took advantage of the week to meet some of the new members as well as confirm sponsors for the legislation we intend to pursue this year.

One matter of particular interest to most legislative observers occurred Thursday when the speakers of both the House and Senate released committee appointments. The makeup and leadership of the committees and subcommittees are critical to the passage of legislation. We have experienced firsthand how three members of a five-member subcommittee can derail legislation.

We will be providing more information on those bills in the coming weeks and will keep you apprised as these and other bills of interest progress through the process.

NOTE: FACT provides links to external websites for educational purposes only. The inclusion of any links to other websites does not necessarily constitute an endorsement.

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