Equality advocates are suing to overturn the Tennesse HB600 or the so-called “Special Access to Discriminate” (SAD) Act that was passed last May which prevents any municipality from extending non-discrimination protections to LGBT people because state law does not currently cover sexual orientation or gender identity as a protected class and in addition recinded Nashville’s LGBT discrimination law that was already on its books.
Documents that have been obtained as part of the law suit now show that so-called “traditional family” activists such as David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee and a former state senator, not only scripted the legislative debate over law but also attempted to hide their anti-gay bias
Fowler said the Family Action Council fought for the legislation even though promoting business is not one of the organization’s stated purposes because a strong economy is good for traditional Christian families.
But documents that have been handed over because of the lawsuit seem to prove otherwise.
“Metro Council here in Nashville is considering requiring private businesses that do business with the city and those who lease property from the city have an employment policy to protect homosexual conduct and cross-dressing, etc.,” Fowler wrote in a Jan. 26 email to individuals including state Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin. Fowler described how he hoped to persuade the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce to oppose Metro’s planned ordinance. “Metro passed its homosexual ordinance for Metro employees by 24 to 15 in 2009 so the Council is clearly liberal.
“Please do NOT pass this on to anyone who you think might in the slightest pass it to anyone else,” Fowler continued later in the email. “We’ve learned that some folks we thought were friends cannot be trusted and we don’t need the Chamber backing off because it starts to appear to be too much of a Christian, right wing, homosexual issue rather than a business/economic issue.”
Fowler wrote the group again on Jan. 29 after meeting with chamber officials.
“I felt it was pretty clear that they did not like the ordinance but didn’t want to come across as homophobes or send the country a signal that Nashville was not a great city for all people — was inclusive,” Fowler wrote. “In my opinion the Chamber is clearly trying to document ‘good reasons’ to oppose the bill that anyone with any common sense, regardless of where they stand on the ethic of homosexual conduct, could see are valid concerns.” And again, Fowler concluded the email by asking recipients not to share it.
“We sure don’t need any loose lips getting word to the Chamber about what I think and for sure not (the Tennessee Equality Project)!” he wrote.
When questioned about this Fowler replied: “That’s what any lobbyist worth his salt does on the Hill,”