The Tennessee General Assembly is moving to put Tennessee jobs and its economy at risk.
On Tuesday, April 5, the Nashville Metro Council enacted the Contract Accountability Non-Discrimination Ordinance (CAN DO) which extended LGBT-inclusive workplace protections to the employees of government contractors. Nashville passed a similar ordinance to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees from discrimination on the job in 2009. Such workplace protections make Nashville and other communities more attractive to talented professionals and workers, businesses and entrepreneurs. People want to live and work in places that value diversity and inclusion of all people. Such values foster creativity and drive the economic engine of business.
But these advances and future advances in other communities in Tennessee are threatened by the “Special Access to Discriminate” Act (HB600/SB632). The SAD Act would repeal the CAN DO in Nashville, take away established rights, and label Tennessee as an intolerant place for workers, residents and tourists.
If enacted, the SAD act will encourage talented and educated professionals to leave Tennessee for more welcoming and inclusive communities. Businesses in the state will have a harder time recruiting talented and skilled workers to live and work in Tennessee.
The SAD Act also threatens tourism in Tennessee. The Gay Travel Blog of Passport Magazine advertised the passage of the CAN DO in Nashville on April 5 along with the 2009 Employment Non-Discrimination Ordinance. LGBT travelers with disposable income for travel take note such advances. The SAD Act would destroy a welcoming message to travelers.
The State of Colorado enacted legislation similar to the SAD Act in 1992 that prohibited local governments from passing 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.
The Tennessee General Assembly should be doing everything it can to promote economic growth, tourism and prosperity in Tennessee. But the SAD Act will only undermine the economy in Tennessee.
Contact Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and relevant Executive Branch Departments today. Tell them that Tennessee cannot allow intolerance and bigotry to damage the state's tourism industry and economy.