It was another bad week for SB632/HB600, the Special Access to discriminate law as Nashville students presented a petition for its repeal to Governor Bill Haslam while the Family Action Council of Tennessee (the real pusher of the law) reacted hysterically and defensively to the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry abandoning them at the unholy altar of hate.
Students petition for redress of grievances: A group of Nashville students who have been active in opposing the Don't Say Gay bill have turned their attention to HB600. They marched from the Metro Courthouse to the Capitol and presented a petition to the Governor's staff, earning the praise of Congressman Jim Cooper, according to The Tennessean:
“It reminds me of the Freedom Riders in the ’60s,” he [Cooper] said.
Another Jim turns the business argument on its head: Meanwhile in Memphis, Sen. Jim Kyle, the sponsor of SB2121 that would repeal HB600, met the business argument that had been used to support discrimination and Jiu-Jitsued it into an argument about Tennessee's place in a global economy during a WSMV interview:
"This measure needs a second look," said Kyle. "This goes directly to our ability to be competitive in a world market and on a world stage."
Proponents on the defensive: The video isn't up yet, but Pat Nolan asked Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, who abruptly announced her support of HB600 in April, about the repeal in the most recent episode of Inside Politics. My guess is that those who supported the measure will continue to face embarrassing questions. But we do have video of the Family Action Council of Tennessee's president, David Fowler. In one of the most audacious redefinitions of "bullying" ever to be broadcast, Mr. Fowler bemoans the business community retreating from the legislation and accuses the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community of bullying business:
First, let's be clear. Businesses colluded in discriminating against Tennessee workers. It was only natural that our community and our allies would raise an outcry. Second, Mr. Fowler's organization bullied lawmakers with a deceptive video implying that non-discrimination ordinances lead to gender confusion, which would then magically give carte blanche to predators who want to follow children into bathrooms. Third, the irony of Mr. Fowler standing on a playground talking about bullying when organizations like his actively work against adding explicit protections against bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity to school policies is THICK!
But the real point is that Family Action is feeling a little bit lonely as the realization hits that everyone has now seen through their pro-business facade. If I were a business leader, I would be fuming that I had let them lead me into so much bad publicity and potential loss of market share.
More to come: Students petitioning, businesses doing a 180-degree turn, the filing of SB2121...has the story finally run out of twists and turns? No way. Once the court challenge is filed, the story will continue to make the news. And we will continue to see just how much of a mess HB600 has made for our state.