What does this law mean? In some ways, things in Tennessee won’t actually change—but that isn’t a good thing. In Tennessee, some of these agencies already barred LGBTQ couples from adopting; now it’s just legal and taxpayer-funded to do so. This law makes these private adoption agencies eligible for state funding in spite of their discriminatory policies. Put another way, the law means that the state can’t deny grant or license applications from these agencies based on its refusal to work with LGBTQ families. The bill also protects said agencies from being sued.
Before Gov. Lee signed the bill into law, the Tennessee Senate passed it 20-6, with five state Democrats and one state Republican, State Sen. Steve Dickerson, voting no. Five GOP members declined to vote.
Some people speculated that the bill may not become law because of opposition from major companies who promised to bring jobs to Tennessee. For example, Amazon, who is bringing about 5,000 jobs to Nashville, released the following statement on the anti-LGBTQ legislation as reported by CNBC: “Amazon does not support this legislation. We have a long history of supporting equality and we’re opposed to laws that discriminate or encourage discrimination.” Last April, a handful of companies including Nike, Lyft, and IKEA signed a letter against the legislation. As of now, however, it doesn’t appear that any companies are pulling back because of the law.
Sadly, none of this is surprising, given the trend of anti-LGBTQ bills cropping up around the nation. For example, as previously covered at Daily Kos, a recent bill that would make students play on sports teams based on their sex identified at birth is getting attention in Tennessee. Kansas has also moved forward with anti-LGBTQ policies on discrimination, as has Buffalo, New York, and Texas. Michigan, notably, reversed its anti-LGBTQ adoption move because of a lawsuit, which gives some hope that Tennessee could do the same.
Of course, with Trump in the mix, nothing feels like a safe bet. The GOP state senator who sponsored this particular bill actually referenced Trump in his decision making. On Jan. 14, Sen. Paul Rose clarified that he is well aware that Trump’s administration has proposed a rule that would have the same effect as this law, meaning that the bill isn’t necessarily needed to support his agenda. He wanted to move forward with it, however, because he’s worried about Trump not being reelected, as reported by the Associated Press. And now, here we are.