Thursday, February 6, 2020

Companies Say Anti-LGBTQ Laws Threaten Business

Posted By on Thu, Feb 6, 2020 at 1:32 PM

click to enlarge OUTMEMPHIS
  • OUTMemphis

Hilton, the Tennessee Titans, the Nashville Predators, IKEA, Nike, Amazon, CMT, Postmates, and Warby Parker.

These are but some of 36 corporations doing business in Tennessee that believe the state’s recently passed bill to discriminate against the LGBTQ community in adoptions will hurt business.

Those corporations and 109 small businesses issued a letter Wednesday saying “policies that signal that the state is not welcoming to everyone put our collective economic success at risk.”

“As we seek to maintain and grow our world-class workforce, we often face questions about whether our state is welcoming to the LGBTQ community and beyond,” reads the letter. “It is both a business imperative and core to our corporate values that our customers, our employees and their families, and our potential employees feel fully included in the prosperity of our state.”

The letter was organized by the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Freedom for All Americans, GLAAD, and the Human Rights Council. As such, most of the letter’s signers are in Middle Tennessee.

The Nashville Predators said the city has seen enormous fan turnout for the NHL All-Star Weekend, the NHL Stanley Cup Final, and SEC men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

“Passing discriminatory legislation would limit revenue for the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee by inhibiting our ability to secure events like those and future events such as league marquee events, NCAA Games, award shows, and countless potential concerts,” the Predators said in the letter. “We strongly encourage our elected officials to keep us on an inclusive path that protects the rights of all Tennessee citizens.”

click to enlarge Memphis Pride Fest
  • Memphis Pride Fest

Postmates, the tech-forward delivery service, said it “continues to be alarmed by the Lee Administration’s anti-LGBTQ agenda, particularly as we consider expanding our presence in the Volunteer State.”

“State leaders cannot and will not be able to expect companies like ours to power its economic engines while supporting legislation that undermines our ability to feel welcome in this state unless they commit to a new pathway to include all families and all workers,” the company said in the letter. “HB 386 undermines businesses’ ability to recruit top talent and grow in the state by policies that say not all are welcome — and it’s just plain wrong.
“To our Postmates fleet, our customers, our small business owners, our entire community: we stand with you no matter who you love or who you are, and we will not accept this kind of flagrant hatred.”

State senators passed the bill in its first major move since the 111th Tennessee General Assembly reconvened in January. Lee signed the bill into law last month. It allows adoption agencies to discriminate against the LGBTQ community.

The bill shelters faith-based adoption agencies from lawsuits by any group claiming discrimination. It prohibits faith-based groups from participating “in any child placement for foster care or adoption that would violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions.”

Some senators warned passing the bill could hinder business in the state, with companies and conventions passing over Tennessee for more gay-friendly states.

But the bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Paul Rose (R-Tipton and part of Shelby County), said the bill “was about the right to choose.”

“If you believe in freedom, you’ll put aside the issues thrown at you from the business community and look to the roots of this nation,” Rose said.

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