A resolution requesting that the Tennessee General Assembly and Gov. Bill Haslam communicate with Nashville’s business groups and community before passing legislation that could be detrimental to Nashville & Davidson County commerce.

WHEREAS, the citizens of Nashville have worked diligently for a generation to build a brand that is welcoming to people and businesses; and

WHEREAS, people and businesses have relocated to the region and, as a result, have dramatically improved our economy and tax base; and

WHEREAS, the Nashville metropolitan statistical area (MSA) contributes approximately one-third (1/3) of the total taxes generated in Tennessee, in part as a result of the work and investment placed into Nashville’s brand; and

WHEREAS, House Bill 1840 / Senate Bill 1556, which was passed by the Tennessee General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam on April 27, 2016, provides that counselors and therapists may refuse service or counseling to clients if it conflicts “with the sincerely held principles of the counselor or therapist”, and immunizes them from civil liability, criminal prosecution and professional board sanctions for such refusal; and

WHEREAS, the American Counseling Association has denounced the state legislation as a “hate bill” against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and has cancelled a planned April 2017 conference in Nashville as a result of the legislation’s enactment;

WHEREAS, House Bill 1840 / Senate Bill 1556 references “normal human growth and development” in its definition of counseling or therapy sessions, suggesting to many that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals are not “normal”; and

WHEREAS, in response to the enactment of the state legislation, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has banned city-funded travel to Tennessee by Philadelphia employees unless a trip is deemed essential to public health and safety; and

WHEREAS, mayors of nine (9) U.S. cities -- including New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia -- sent Gov. Haslam a letter urging him to veto the legislation, stating: “We formed a coalition to fight discrimination in an effort to stand up against bigotry and prejudice in cities and states across the country, and are committed to using our collective influence to oppose discriminatory practices”; and

WHEREAS, the original version of the legislation cited religious beliefs as the justification for refusing services; and

WHEREAS, this legislation follows approximately one hundred other bills proposed in legislatures across the United States in 2016 which invoke religion as justification for refusing services to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people; and

WHEREAS, members of the LGBT community are frequently the victims of discrimination, hate crimes, and animosity. Legislation subjecting them to the refusal of counseling and therapy services by some only deepens the harm caused by a shameful legacy of hatred and misunderstanding; and

WHEREAS, allowing discrimination to flourish under thinly veiled claims of personal or religious conviction does harm to both the victims of discrimination as well as the convictions purportedly served;

WHEREAS, professional counselors and therapists should refrain from treating potential clients differently from others based upon personal beliefs, inasmuch as it defies professional standards; and

WHEREAS, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. has projected losses of over $2.5 million in direct spending and approximately $445,000 in state and local revenue as a result of the ACA conference cancellation, and fears further cancellations as a result of the legislative enactment; and

WHEREAS, in addition to the American Counseling Association, the Colorado-based Centers for Spiritual Living canceled plans to hold its annual convention in Nashville in February 2017, an event that organizers said would have drawn approximately 500 people and resulted in direct spending of $301,000 and local and state taxes of an additional $55,000.


Section 1. That the Metropolitan County Council hereby goes on record as requesting that the Tennessee General Assembly and Gov. Bill Haslam communicate with Nashville’s business groups and community before passing legislation that could be detrimental to Nashville & Davidson County commerce.

Section 2. The Metropolitan Clerk is directed to send a copy of this Resolution to Gov. Bill Haslam and to each member of the Tennessee General Assembly.

Section 3. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsored by: Fabian Bedne, Mary Carolyn Roberts, Mina Johnson


Referred to: Budget & Finance Committee
Convention, Tourism, & Public Entertainment Facilities Committee
Introduced: June 21, 2016
Deferred: June 21, 2016
Adopted: July 5, 2016
Returned unsigned by the Mayor: July 6, 2016

Requests for ADA accommodation should be directed to the Metropolitan Clerk at 615/862-6770.