• News Release: Business Leaders Speak Out Against Anti-LGBT Bills in Tennessee





    Joe Woolley, CEO




    Business Leaders Speak Out Against Anti-LGBT Bills in Tennessee,

    Major Concern for Impact on Business and Tourism if Bills Pass Tomorrow

    Over 75 businesses signed an open letter opposing anti-LGBT legislation in Tennessee, including Amazon, Bridgestone, Dell Technologies, Postmates, and Warner Music Group


    Nashville, TN -- Major corporations in Tennessee have expressed concern over their ability to continue to invest in Tennessee if anti-LGBT legislation becomes law. Over 75 business leaders have signed an open letter organized by the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Freedom for All Americans opposing the slate of anti-LGBT bills - three of which could reach the Governor’s desk as soon as this week.


    The open letter is signed by over fifty small businesses and over 20 corporations including AllianceBernstein, Amazon, Bridgestone Americas, Curb Records, Dell Technologies, Genesco, Lyft, Nashville Predators, Salesforce, Tennessee Titans, and Warner Music Group.


    Postmates, released the following statement citing job growth and expansion concerns: “The politics of division that sailed through the legislature this week not only undermines the equal dignity of all persons and emboldens policies of discrimination -- but also it undercuts the economic prospects of hundreds of dedicated community members who live and are employed by companies like Postmates. We are extremly concerned passage of these bills could harm job growth for us, especially as we have economic incentive packages with the State to expand our presence; and as tech is in a worldwide race for top talent, Tennessee should not give companies any reason to reconsider where they call home. We’re taking a stand with our merchants, our Postmates fleet, our customers, our small business owners, our veterans, and our brothers and sisters, to say simply: no matter your race, color, creed, or food order — we stand with you.” -- Vikrum Aiyer, VP of Global Public Policy & Strategic Communications


    On Saturday in the midst of day 3 of the NFL Draft taking place in Nashville, the Tennessee Titans released a statement.


    Tennessee Titans: “The Tennessee Titans oppose discrimination in any form. We are long-standing supporters of Tennessee Thrives. Discriminatory legislation hurts all of us. It also impacts our ability to secure events like the 2019 NFL Draft, major conventions, major athletic contests and other events that benefit our local and state economy. It also weakens our ability to recruit new business and industry to Nashville and to Tennessee. We would encourage our elected officials to keep us on a path that protects all our citizens, our growth and our economy.”


    The most recent statements released today come from the other major league sporting teams in Nashville, the Nashville Predators and the Nashville Soccer Club issued statements echoing the concerns made by the Titans.


    Nashville Predators: “The Nashville Predators and Bridgestone Arena oppose discrimination of any kind.  In an effort to keep our state vibrant with potential for tremendous economic and social growth, we proudly support Tennessee Thrives. We have seen our city and state stand with us during NHL All-Star Weekend and the NHL Stanley Cup Final and we have witnessed lower Broadway embrace the incredible volume of fans for the SEC during the Men’s and Women’s basketball tournaments. Passing discriminatory legislation would limit revenue for the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee by inhibiting our ability to secure events like those and future events such as league marquee events, NCAA Games, award shows and countless potential concerts. We strongly encourage our elected officials to keep us on an inclusive path that protects the rights of all Tennessee citizens.”


    Nashville Soccer Club: “As a major league sports club approaching our inaugural season in Major League Soccer, we carefully selected diversity and inclusion as two of our core values as an organization. We cannot and do not condone discrimination of any form, or support legislation that explicitly or implicitly allows discrimination against LGBTQ people and their families. Our team, and we believe our city, should be open to all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, ethnic origin or race, and we stand as proudly with the LGBTQ community as we do with all other communities.”


    AllianceBernstein, newly headquartered in Tennessee, spoke out first and early on in the legislative session, stating: “AB chose to move to Tennessee because we believe it is a welcoming state that is focused on growing jobs, incomes and the tax base, which will improve lives for all Tennesseans. We believe strongly in the need for continued investments in education, safety and infrastructure for all. The bills being debated in the current session of the legislature send a clear message to certain constituencies that they are not welcome. Other states have tried to pass similar bills, and this has proven to be anti-growth, anti-jobs and against the interests of the citizens of those states.”


    Mike Curb of Curb Records’ full statement: “As a former elected official, a Republican and a Christian, and as founder and Chairman of Curb Records and the Curb Foundation, I cannot believe that our legislators would put our brand new Governor in a position to have to consider potentially discriminatory legislation that could involve taxpayer funds.”


    ServiceSource:Although our company is headquartered in Colorado, we have a significant presence in Nashville (over 700 employees in the city center) and we were recently made aware of the proposed legislation that would disadvantage our LGBT community members, as well as the open letter to the legislature sponsored by your organization. We at ServiceSource are committed to equality and believe that policies and laws that promote tolerance and equal opportunity are critical not only to business but to society. “


    Amazon Statement- “Amazon has a long history of supporting equality and we’re opposed to laws that discriminate or encourage discrimination."


    Tech giant Technet, sent a letter to the legislature citing concerns about their ability to compete in a global marketplace: “Legislation explicitly or implicitly targeting LGBTQ people is an economic liability for Tennessee, and it negatively impacts the state’s ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest employees. After all, technology companies are engaged in a worldwide fight for the top talent – talent that has the choice of where to work or begin the next startup. Tennessee shouldn't make it harder to compete for these individuals and convince them to call the state home.”


    Warner Music Group executives also sent a letter to Governor Bill Lee, urging him to oppose this discriminatory legislation: "WMG is proud of its longstanding presence in Tennessee. The continued success and growth of our business here depends on our ability to recruit and retain a best-in-class, diverse workforce. We often receive questions about whether Tennessee is a welcoming and inclusive place to live for the LGBT community. These bills send a clear message that LGBT artists, songwriters and employees are not welcome.”




    “Tennessee is a great place to do business, and we want to keep it that way. Thanks to our corporate members and so many other businesses that share grave concerns about their ability to continue investing in Tennessee’s economy if these bills become law,” said Joe Woolley, CEO of the Nashville LGBT Chamber. “It is imperative that our legislature reject these discriminatory bills and ensure that Tennessee remains open for business to all. The self-inflicted wounds to the state’s economy if these bills are passed will be felt far and wide. I ask why, why are we about to do this to ourselves? I hope senators consider this when voting for the bills this week.”


    “Tennessee is on the brink of becoming the next North Carolina - and the first state in the nation to pass anti-LGBTQ legislation this year,” said Kasey Suffredini, President of Strategy at Freedom for All Americans. “Business leaders know that Tennessee can’t afford to face the economic consequences of laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people. These bills target LGBTQ people in virtually every area of their lives and are some of the most dangerous attacks on our community nationwide. We stand with the business community in opposition to any efforts to discriminate against LGBTQ Tennesseans and their families.”

    • The Senate will vote Tuesday morning on the following bills.
    • The Tennessee Senate will vote on SB 1499, which would require the Tennessee Attorney General to either pay for legal costs or itself defend discriminatory anti-transgender school policies.
    • The Tennessee Senate will vote on SB 1304 which would allow taxpayer-funded child welfare services to discriminate against LGBT people and people of minority faiths, among others. The full House has already passed its House companion, HB 836.

    For more information and for businesses wishing to sign the open letter, contact joe@nashvillelgbtchamber.org.