Somebody call Dolly Parton, Tennessee needs a superhero.
Perhaps you recall the state's clever little plan to ensure straightness by outlawing discussion of anything gay in schools? Well, the "Don't Say Gay" bill was passed by the Senate on Friday with a vote of 20-10. Ouch. But all is not lost. The bill hasn't made it out of committee in the House and isn't scheduled to come up for a vote until at least next year.
The Tennessee Equality Project and the local chapter of PFLAG aren't letting it get there without a fight: they're planning an "It's OK to Say Gay" rally this Sunday at a Universalist Unitarian Church in Knoxville, emphasizing that this whole mess isn't just about politics or a liberal agenda but about keeping kids safe. George Takei is doing his part as well by offering his name up as a replacement for the word "gay" if students and teachers are no longer allowed to say it.
What a man, what a man. I was going to say something about the force being with us, but Google is telling me that I'm confusing Star Trek and Star Wars.
In other news, meet HB 600/SB 632, a bill that aims to remove equal protection by prohibiting cities from enacting non-discrimination legislation. With race, sex, religion, and age counting among the categories listed as unavailable for protection, the bill poses a threat not only to LGBT people but to all past civil rights progress. The bill has been framed as "pro-business" rather than "anti-discrimination" and was supported by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce. Companies that lobbied include Nissan, FedEx, AT&T, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG, Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare.
Since the bill's passing these companies have come under scrutiny, prompting United Health, Alcoa, Nissan, FedEx, and AT&T to issue statements. The press releases range from FedEx's "We didn't do it" to Alcoa's request that the governor veto the bill. Are they against it because they care or because the bad publicity and subsequent economic consequences of working to overturn the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are too much to handle?
Q: How exactly did this inane bill manage to pass?
A: With the help of equally stupid advertisements.
The only thing I learned from this ad is that someone doesn't understand what being gay means and might have benefited from learning about it in school. Reasons to say gay, people.
UPDATE: The Tennessee Hate Bill has been signed into law by the Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee. Reports now report that a provision stripping transgender people from legally changing their sex was also part of the bill.
Please leave messages on the facebook pages and twitter accounts of the companies responsible for this. For your own education -- here's a list of which companies from the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce helped and/or screwed us on this thing. Also take a minute to sign this petition.