Which "Gay Friendly" Companies Are Working To Pass An Anti-Gay Law In TN?

By: Friday May 20, 2011 2:33 pm

Why are Nissan, and supposedly “gay-friendly” FedEx and AT&T and Comcast and DuPont and Pfizer and Blue Cross Blue Shield and Caterpillar and KPMG and Whirlpool and  Embraer and  Alcoa and United HealthCare helping the Relgious Right pass a piece of anti-gay legislation in Tennesse?

A draconian law that will have decades long implications for LGBT community is on it's way to being a done deal in Tennessee (and no, it's not the “Don't Say  Gay” law).

The last hurdle is a Governor's signature. There may still be time to head it off.

The Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act has passed both houses and awaits the Governor's signature. This bill asserts the State Sovereignty to define anti-discrimination protection only at the state level.

The law would rescind all local LGBT non-discrimination protection ordinances in the state of Tennessee and ban it moving forward. Though Romer v. Evans may provide precedence for legal challenge, it is functionally enough different it is not a violation of that Supreme Court decision. And will likely require years of expense, litigation to undo.

It's is the opposite of small government, local rule and an example of big government footprint overriding local decisions.

And it is a way for Red States to ensure there are not even a single small oasis in their state where LGBT people can feel a just a little safer, in their jobs, in their homes and in their person. Say goodbye to your progressive values, Austin, your Red County representatives are going to tell you you're doing it wrong.

Worse, it was the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce that worked to push it through:

The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce has come out in support of a bill that would reverse Metro's ordinance barring discrimination against LGBT employees.

On April 25, House members voted 73-24 in favor of the proposed legislation (HB600). Sponsored by Republican Glen Casada of Williamson County, it would nullify a Nashville ordinance prohibiting companies that discriminate against gays and lesbians from doing business with the city. The companion bill in the Senate (SB 0632) is currently awaiting vote.

In his speech during that House session, Casada claimed that the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry had lobbied actively for the bill. Sponsors of the Metro non-discrimination law—Jamie Hollin, Mike Jameson, Erica Gilmore and Megan Berry—sent a letter to the organization inquiring as to their position.

It has nothing to do with “Intrastate commerce” and everything to do with bashing gays.

As as John Aravosis said on AmericaBlog:

Make no mistake, this was legislative gay-bashing at its worst.  The legislation was crafted by the religious right in order to repeal Nashville's new ordinance protecting gay and trans residents from discrimination.

We all cheered last year when Nashville, Tennessee passing non-discrimination protection for gays. It seemed a real change may be sweeping America when even Southern states were willing stand up for the LGBT community. This is how the far right will stop that change.

John Aravois and Joe Sudbay have a plan, make the companies who control seats on the Chamber of Commerce answer for this action:

The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce – chaired by Nissan, and whose other board members include such companies as FedEx, AT&T, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG, Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare – actively lobbied for a religious right bill in the Tennessee legislature that would rescind Nashville's civil rights protections for its gay and trans citizens, and which bans every city in Tennessee from passing any civil rights laws, for anyone, ever again.

I think they're on to something. Time to ask these companies whose company reputation earns them that seat on the board of the Chamber of Commerce, “Is this what your company stands for? Do you really want Nissan to stand for picking on gays?” This is a disgusting, discriminatory law, and do these companies really want their names associated with it? Are their companies really going to throw their weight behind passing it?

Make no mistake this is the right's next tactic to stop the LGBT community. This measure is the next round of 2004 gay marriage ban ballot initiatives. If this succeeds—with the help of local Chambers of Commerce across the country—it will  metastasize to other states and sweep the Red States. And the small havens in Texas, Oklahoma and other states will become less safe their LGBT citizens once again.

Chamber of Commerce Chair, Nissan, has a rather poor record on LGBT issues. Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index rating is merely a 50 out of 100. (You can find HRC's documentation here.) This is a look at Corporations' commitment to LGBT non-discrimination policies, partner benefits and other policies that are of interest to the LGBT community.

The same, however cannot be said of other corporations that control seats on the Tennessee Chamber of Congress, here are their ratings on HRC's 2010 Corporate Equality Index, on a scale of 1-100:

AT&T: 100
DuPont: 100
Pfizer: 100
KPMG: 100
Whirlpool: 100
Alcoa: 100
Comcast: 95
Blue Cross Blue Shield : 90
Caterpillar: 75
FedEx:  70

It's time to hold these companies feet to the fire.

It's time to ask them, what are their company values really? Do they condemn LGBT discrimination in their own work force, while helping to promote anti-gay legislation in the state houses across the country?

Are they really just pretending to be friends to the gays, while working behind the scenes to marginalize, stigmatize and undermine them?

As we saw with the Target story, this is really an a question Human Rights Campaign needs to consider when, as they speak on behalf of the gay community, they endorse these companies as “gay friendly” in their Corporate Equality Index ratings.

Why would these companies endorse this law?

Please, take a minute to sign the petition, let's show corporate America we have our eyes on what their representatives on the Chamber of Commerce are up to.

From the text of the petition:

TO: Nissan, FedEx, AT&T, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG. Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare:

Your companies' embrace of this blatant discrimination is un-American and bad for business.

We demand that you issue an immediate statement withdrawing your support for HB 600/SB
632, and that you tell Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to veto this bill. 

13 Responses to “Which "Gay Friendly" Companies Are Working To Pass An Anti-Gay Law In TN?”

May 20th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

HRC needs to take the 15 point deduction for anti-gay actionsThis is what the deduction is for after all.

May 20th, 2011 at 4:44 pm
In response to ab0ng @ 1

At least!

May 20th, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I asked FedEx about it…they don’t have a stake in it…she said.I called FedEx at (910) 263-9400, and was called back by a Sandra Munious (sp?). She got very nasty with me insisting that FedEx had nothing to do with it, they were just one of many members of the Chamber (I had to keep reminding her that they were not just one of many, but a board member). She said they don’t always agree with everything the Chamber lobbies for, and that they don’t support this bill, but she refused to say whether they objected to the Chamber, or lobbied against the bill themselves.  
She finally asked what I wanted them to do, and I said that it might be good, if they actually disagreed with the Chamber, to issue a press release saying they disagreed, and that their policies were different, etc. She started yelling at me saying this wasn’t their issue, and that she had called me back, so they were responding to me, and didn’t have to issue a press release.  
So, if you’d like to find out for yourself how FedEx feels about this, I suggest you contact her directly. They are only responding on an indivicual basis apparently.

May 20th, 2011 at 6:36 pm
In response to bjohnm @ 3

Well bullshit.

they were just one of many members of the Chamber (I had to keep reminding her that they were not just one of many, but a board member

If your company is on the board of the CoC and the CoC endorsed the bill, then FedEx gets to answer for that.
Glad she yelled at you. Shows they’re scared.
Thanks for calling.

May 20th, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Spread the storyHave you posted the diary at your DailyKos account?

May 20th, 2011 at 7:43 pm
May 20th, 2011 at 9:57 pm

My Letter to AARPUnited Healthcare is the chosen insurance provider for AARP
to: diversity@aarp.org
To whom it may concern:
If you truly have an interest in diversity, you might want to reconsider the vendor you
have chosen to provide healthcare insurance.
United Healthcare (and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce) have just lobbied to rescind Nashville’s civil rights
protections for its gay and trans citizens, and which bans every city in Tennessee from passing any
civil rights laws, for anyone, ever again.
http://gay.americablog.com/201
http://timesfreepress.com/news
I am stuck with my AARP/UnitedHealthcare coverage through the end of the year,
but as a gay American I will not be renewing with AARP if UnitedHealthcare
is your chosen vendor in the future.
This is not the way I want my healthcare dollars spent.

May 20th, 2011 at 10:23 pm

You started by asking Why?Why do these corporations feel it is in their best financial interest to bash gays? If you answered that question I missed it.
At least in the case of Target and Minnesota they could say their candidate had their best financial interests in mind and it makes no difference to them that he is also anti-gay. But this case is different. The only reason for the law is to bash gays. Which means that is what the TNCC — and by extension all those companies — intended. If there is a business case, what is it?

May 21st, 2011 at 12:11 am
In response to Paul K @ 8

I posed the questionI don’t presume to understand what might motivate them to work to pass this law. It is at odds with their corporate policies and expressed principles.  

May 21st, 2011 at 12:29 am

Always curiousHow did FedEx get a reputation for being gay friendly? Having worked there for 19 years, I can tell you first hand that the only time they do anything that would remotely benefit their gay employees (we are legion) is if it comes down to a legal issue.
We have yet to get domestic partner benefits, although  they announced it would happen last year. It would happen in 2012. Can’t rush into these things, you know.
I once submitted an inquiry regarding that issue due to a personal concern w/ my partner. To paraphrase the response I received, “Keep dreaming, homo.”
There have been many supportive individuals. I have fantastic peers and managers. The Company–not so much.

May 21st, 2011 at 1:20 am
In response to pb1025 @ 10

FedEx SucksFedEx has a long, well-known history of being anti-gay. They have had to be dragged inch by inch kicking and screaming from one decade to the next on any gay-related issue, and they relent only as much as the law requires in any given jurisdiction.
Never use FedEx for anything, if you have any choice whatsoever. Never.

May 21st, 2011 at 1:23 am
In response to pb1025 @ 10

FedEX only provides DP health benefits in CA because it is required by law, state law.
TN law, not so much.

May 22nd, 2011 at 4:57 pm

We need more informationI thought most of these companies have a policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation. Wouldn’t the law benefit them by giving them preference over their discriminatory competitors?
Or does the law also cover gender identity? (I got confused by your use of “gays” and “LGBT” as if they were synonyms.) If this is the case, and these companies don’t have gender identity in their non-discrimination policy, maybe it’s because they want Nashville to work with them instead of their trans-friendly competitors.

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