Corporate Support for LGBTQ Rights Hits a Wall in Tennessee

Words by Tina Casey
Mar 11, 2020 11:15 AM ET

Without support from strong federal policies ensuring LGBTQ rights, corporate leaders who are striving for diversity and inclusion have little leverage to push back against discriminatory state legislation. That problem is clearly evident in the latest development, which concerns new anti-LGBTQ legislation in Tennessee.

LGBTQ rights: letters are only a start

The Tennessee discrimination issue made national news last week, when almost 150 local businesses and major corporations signed onto a letter of protest against anti-LGBTQ legislation.

The open letter, organized by the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce and supported by the organizations Freedom for All Americans, GLAAD and HRC, was sent to state legislators after Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed House Bill 836 into law.

Assuming it survives challenges in court, the new law eliminates otherwise qualified LGBTQ persons from the pool of adoptive and foster parents. Many other people would be also be disqualified, including interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced, or other parents to whom the agency has any religious objection, according to a list compiled by Human Right Watch.

Along with 108 local businesses and several major Tennessee sports, travel and culture organizations, a fairly significant number of leading corporations signed the list. They  include Amazon, American Airlines, Bridgestone Americas, Dell Technologies, Dow, Hilton, Marriott International, Inc., Mars, Inc., Nike, Inc., Nissan North America, Salesforce, Warby Parker and Warner Music Group.

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