A group of companies with operations in Tennessee—including major names like Nike and Amazon—are pressuring the state on behalf of gay activists because of a new law that protects the rights of faith-based adoption and foster agencies.
A total of 142 Tennessee businesses lent their names to a letter denouncing the newly-enacted HB 836, a law that ensures licensed foster care and adoption agencies cannot be forced to make child placements that “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”
The letter, organized by the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce, GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign and Freedom for All Americans, claims that by allowing child-placing agencies the right to only place children in homes with both a mother and a father, they are discriminating against LGBTQ couples.
“Policies that signal that the state is not welcoming to everyone put our collective economic success at risk,” the letter states. “… We ask that lawmakers not pursue any further legislation that would target or exclude LGBTQ people, which would do harm to Tennesseans and create unnecessary hurdles to economic competitiveness.”
Gov. Bill Lee, who signed HB 836 into law last month, doesn’t agree with the letter’s assessment.
“I think equality is important and protection of rights is important and the rights of religious liberty are important,” he said in a recent interview. “And that bill was centered around protection of religious liberty, and that’s why I signed it.”
Other major companies to sign the letter include Dell, Lyft, Marriott and American Airlines. Collectively, the companies refer to themselves as the Tennessee Businesses Against Discrimination.
FedEx, the largest company headquartered in Tennessee, was noticeably absent from the list of businesses. According to CNBC, GLAAD asked the company to sign the letter, but FedEx respectfully declined, communicating that it prefers to demonstrate corporate values through civic and charitable efforts rather than advocacy efforts.
But that didn’t exclude FedEx from GLAAD’s wrath.
“FedEx has an obligation to its LGBTQ employees in Tennessee and its customers nationwide to use its public voice and brand power to help stop these dangerous anti-LGBTQ bills,” GLADD told CNBC. “With more than three dozen large corporations speaking out against the slate of legislation, FedEx’s refusal to address is notable and out of step with other companies doing business in Tennessee.”
HB 836 is just one of six bills introduced in the Tennessee legislature last year promoting religious liberty and conscience rights. In response, several left-leaning companies have gone as far as telling lawmakers that they would consider pulling their business from the state if it continues to put religious liberty above the LGBTQ agenda.