More calls for Haslam veto of ‘natural and ordinary’ bill from backers of LGBT rights

Advocates for LBGT rights held a news conference Wednesday to urge Gov. Bill Haslam to veto the ”natural and ordinary” bill, though it’s a pretty safe bet he will not do so. Speakers included Jim Obergefell, an Ohio real estate broker who was lead plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court decision (entitled Obergefell v. Hodges) that validated same-sex marriages.

From The Tennessean’s report:

“To push forward with this law sends a clear message that Tennessee is a state that does not welcome all citizens,” Obergefell said.

… The news conference, organized by a partnership between the Tennessee Equality Project and the Human Rights Campaign, featured speakers from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, GLAAD, Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, and other LGBT advocacy groups.

The legislation would require undefined terms in state law be given their “natural and ordinary meaning.” The issue for pro-LGBT groups is with terms like “husband,” “wife,” “mother,” and “father,” which are not defined in state law. HB 1111 and SB 1085 passed both chambers and is now waiting Haslam’s signature to become law. (Note: It reached his desk Monday, starting the 10 day count – excluding Sunday – for a gubernatorial decision.)

LGBT activists have decried the measure as discriminatory. Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the advocacy group GLAAD, called the bill “dangerous” in a statement released on their national website.

“With the entire nation watching, Gov. Haslam should veto this bill which is not only bad for business, but would set a dangerous precedent that could place the well-being of LGBTQ Tennesseans in jeopardy,” Ellis said.

On Tuesday, the New Jersey-based Music Business Association came out against the bill and urged Haslam to veto the legislation, calling it bad for businesses.

Haslam had initially said through a spokeswoman that he was deferring to the legislature on the bill, which means he will go along with the Republican Supermajority that approved it. (Previous post HERE.)

He offered a bit more ambiguous/cautious comment when questioned by reporters directly, as reported by the Nashville Post. Excerpt from that report (prior to the news conference and the bill reaching Haslam’s desk):

“We still haven’t gotten the bill. As we always do, we wait until we get the final version of the bill to see. We’ve been deferred to the will of the Legislature all along. The bill passed fairly overwhelmingly, I think like 3-to-1 in both Houses,” Haslam said. “The other thing  I’d point out is if you look back to how the TN Supreme Court has defined, used that term, the ordinary and natural meaning, and the United States Supreme Court, that’s a term that has been used for centuries, that words have their ordinary and natural meaning. So I’m not certain there’s any new ground here. … My understanding is what the attorney general says is he does not see a conflict in that language.”

Note: The crusade for a Haslam veto has gotten considerable media attention, notably including a Nashville gay bar inviting the governor to come by for a visit. He ignored it.  Start of WSMV-TV’s report on the matter:

Some members of the LGBT community have sent Gov. Bill Haslam an invitation asking him to come hang out with them a while before he considers signing the controversial House Bill 1111. The invite, which was posted on Facebook, went viral within 12 hours.

Christa Suppan and Jonda Valentine run the Lipstick Lounge, a popular gay bar in East Nashville. They created the video after sending a letter to Haslam Monday about the so-called “erasure bill.”

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