The Tennessean reports that the chief lobbyist for the state’s so-called "Special Access to Discriminate" law encouraged legislators to focus on economic arguments rather than their true agenda: discrimination against the GLBT community.
David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee and a former state senator, expressed his concerns in a series of emails to supporters. Documents were revealed after attorney Abby Rubenfeld filed suit to overturn the law that voided Metro’s contractor non-discrimination ordinance.
The law signed last May nullified an ordinance the Metro Council passed requiring city contractors to pledge not to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
A few key quotes from Fowler’s emails:
“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.”
“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. 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)!”