Republican targeted anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in Tennessee could face economic backlash

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Businesses large and small are preparing to oppose more anti-LGBTQ+ bills that are being considered in the Tennessee General Assembly.

“Tennessee is a wonderful state to do business in, but businesses don’t like discrimination,” said Joe Woolley, CEO of the Nashville LGBT Chamber.

Several bills are being debated on Capitol Hill that are drawing concerns from pro-LGBTQ+ rights groups including the ACLU.

Woolley adds that Tennessee’s economy, as a whole, could suffer.

“When we discriminate, they say everything else is great but, we can’t get people to move to the state to work for our company, we can’t get people to stay in this state with this discriminatory legislation,” he said.

According to the chamber, at least three conventions are preparing to pull out with more businesses preparing to pull the plug on investing in the state.

“I think a lot of legislators are looking to call our bluff so to speak, they don’t think that there’s going to be any fall out to this discriminatory legislation— I’m pleading with them, warning them, that there is,” Woolley said.

Republican legislators are leading the charge on Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation from bathroom policy changes, anti-trans youth healthcare bills, to restrictions on LGBTQ+ education.

“Idaho, Mississippi and Arkansas have the athlete bill and are moving forward on some other legislation that we have, but they’re not going to take the hit,” said Woolley, “Tennessee is going to take the hit. We have the most to lose, we’re the most prominent state, we’re where business is coming and where tourism is thriving, not these other states,” Woolley said.

News 2 reached out to Governor Bill Lee’s office for comment and have not heard back.

Just over 120 Tennessee small businesses and 30 corporations including Amazon, Nissan and Warner Music Group signed an open letter opposing discriminatory legislation.

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