Tell the TN House Commerce Subcommittee to vote no on the “Special Access to Discriminate” Act
  • Petitioned TEP Messages

This petition was delivered to:

TEP Messages
State Rep. Kent Williams
State Rep. Dawn White
State Rep. Steve McManus
State Rep. David Shepard
State Rep. Jon Lundberg
State Rep. Mike Carter
State Rep. Charles Sargent
State Rep. Joseph Pitts
State Rep. Dennis Roach
State Rep. Paul Bailey
State Rep. Dale Carr
State Rep. Ryan Haynes
State Rep. Pat Marsh

Tell the TN House Commerce Subcommittee to vote no on the “Special Access to Discriminate” Act

    1. Petition by


Act now to protect workplace equality and fair wages in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Before last November’s election, lawmakers who came to power in the Tennessee General Assembly promised us smaller government. But radical lawmakers are trying to impose BIG government solutions on local communities.

Currently, municipal and county governments in Tennessee are free to enter into voluntary contracts with expectations for workplace equality, living wages and other benefits for workers. Such contract provisions demonstrate that local communities value equality, inclusion and fair wages. Local governments that embrace these virtues make their communities more attractive to workers, entrepreneurs and businesses who want to live and work in these communities.

On March 2, the House General Subcommittee of Commerce will hear legislation that will take away the right of local communities to improve the lives of their citizens and give contractors special rights to discriminate against their workers.  As introduced, the “Special Access to Discriminate Act” (HB0598) will prohibit local governments from enacting non-discrimination provisions for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of government contractors. HB0598 will also prohibit local governments from enacting fair wage laws for employees of government contractors.

The radically anti-gay, anti-trans, and anti-business Family Action Council and the Tennessee Tea Party are promoting this legislation based on a narrow religious agenda. They claim they want to bring small government to Tennessee. But they are pushing BIG government interference on local communities to further their radical social agenda when it suits them.

The bill sets a bad precedent of interfering in the contracting processes of local governments.  Local governments need the ability to set conditions for the use of taxpayer funds based on their needs and values.  This bill undercuts that process. 

The State of Colorado enacted legislation similar to HB0598 in 1992 that prohibited local governments from enacting non-discrimination ordinances. The state drew criticism from potential tourists and businesses looking to move to the state when it embraced intolerance and bigotry. Colorado suffered billions of dollars in lost tourism, jobs and tax revenues over a five year period until the legislation was overturned after costly court challenges. Tennessee cannot afford such long term fiscal consequences during a recession.

A state law allowing workplace discrimination and poverty wages in our local communities will make all of Tennessee less attractive to the best workers, entrepreneurs and businesses who want to live and work in our communities.

Tell the House Commerce Committee to vote no on HB0598!

If you live in the district of a Representative serving on this House General Subcommittee of Commerce, telephone him or her today and encourage them to vote no on HB0598 (Click the House members on the link in this sentence for phone numbers). Then send the following message to the entire committee encouraging them to do the same.

The Senate version of this bill (SB0630) will be heard in committee the day before on March 1. Be sure to participate in both campaign petitions.

Recent signatures


    1. Tennessee Legislators Try to Scale Back LGBT Equality

      Some Tennessee lawmakers want to scale back the clock on equality and make it particularly difficult for LGBT residents in the Volunteer State. For proof, check out this petition from the Tennessee Equality Project. It talks to the...

    2. Reached 100 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • William Kurtz KINGSTON, TN
      • over 3 years ago

      Discrimination is shameful.

      • over 3 years ago

      The "Special Access to Discriminate" Act is a sham.

    • Andrew Brittan FRANKLIN, TN
      • over 3 years ago

      Don't treat gay people as second class citizens. I'm a physician and pay a lot of taxes - and do not think gay people should be discriminated against!

    • Scott Bliss MEMPHIS, TN
      • over 3 years ago

      This bill is bad news for both individuals and local government. The State has no compelling interest that warrants the usurpation of the local governments' capacity to determine with whom and how to conduct business. Further, this proposed legislation is proffered by those seeking loopholes for pushing an extreme religious agenda which has no place in the proper function of a government that is expected to be representative of all its citizens. HB0598 finds itself on a slippery slope down a path toward unchecked discrimination with respect to an unrecognized minority percentage of the population. This is not the dream envisioned by our forefathers. James Madison wrote extensively on the dangers of a tyranny of the majority. One would hope that members of the Tennessee Legislature would execute the responsibility of their office without undue influence of the tyrannical perspective of those who fear what needs not be feared. Fear destroys rational consideration. It is irrational to systematically institute discrimination on any level. I am a heterosexual spouse and father, yet I am not bereft of the capacity for rational consideration. Please vote no on HB0598 as it represents little more than a big government ploy to promote a religious based, special interest agenda that promotes systematic discrimination against a little represented and little recognized minority percentage of the.populous. Please, do not destroy the dream of liberty which served as impetus for the founding of our great society.

    • Michelle Bliss MEMPHIS, TN
      • over 3 years ago

      This is state interference with the ability of local government to enter into contracts, and to set the terms of those contracts both with employees and contractors. If a local government believes that valuing diversity is a local value, then the state should not interfere with their ability to contract for employees, or to recruit bids from contractors that respect those values. This is Big Government, state of Tennessee style.


    Develop your own tools to win.

    Use the API to develop your own organizing tools. Find out how to get started.