Nike, Amazon and Genesco were among the more than 140 businesses that signed a letter on Wednesday declaring their opposition to the state’s recently proposed anti-LGBT laws. The coalition — dubbed the Tennessee Businesses Against Discrimination — included major corporations spanning a range of industries such as aviation, technology and fashion. The member list includes American Airlines, Dell Technologies, Salesforce and Warby Parker, as well as upwards of 100 small businesses in Tennessee.
Together, the firms argued against the passage of HB 836, which, among other things, allows taxpayer-funded foster care, child welfare and adoption agencies to refuse various services (such as foster care and adoption placement) to children if doing so might “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions.”
“Policies that signal that the state is not welcoming to everyone put our collective economic success at risk,” read the letter. “It is both a business imperative and core to our corporate values that our customers, our employees and their families, and our potential employees feel fully included in the prosperity of our state.”
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The group asked that lawmakers not pursue any further legislation that would “target or exclude” members of the LGBT community, which it said would “do harm to Tennesseans and create unnecessary hurdles to economic competitiveness.”
The Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce, LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom for All Americans organized the memo after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed HB 836 into law on Jan. 24.
Nike and Amazon have previously spoken out in support of federal anti-discrimination protections for LGBT workers: In a friend-of-the-court brief filed July, the Human Rights Campaign and other LGBT civil rights groups argued that bias against LGBT employees is considered a form of sex discrimination and thus illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The brief was also signed by a collective of 206 companies, with notable names including the sportswear giant and the retail behemoth as well as luxury brand Gucci and department store chain Macy’s.
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