At Least 13 Huge Companies Supported Tennessee’ s Repeal Of Nashville’s LGBT Protections

The Tennessee senate surprised no one by voting to repeal Nashville’s LGBT protections for city contractors. What is surprising however is that the Tennessee Chamber of Commerced who lobbied heavily in against the LGBT protections those rights has a handful of large, well-known corporations serving as board members. Cue the petition and prepare the boycott!

Nissan, FedEx, AT&T, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG. Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare all lobbied for the bill which not only repealed current city protections for LGBT employees, but will also prohibit any municipal civil rights laws in the future. Furthermore, is it any surprise that the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index gave most of the businesses high rankings. The index scores each company’s’” commitment to LGBT non-discrimination policies, partner benefits and other policies that are of interest to the LGBT community”:

AT&T: 100
DuPont: 100
Pfizer: 100
KPMG: 100
Whirlpool: 100
Alcoa: 100
Comcast: 95
Blue Cross Blue Shield : 90
Caterpillar: 75
FedEx: 70

Nonetheless, just as in the case of Target, the HRC scores don’t account yet for their anti-gay lobbying. There is a petition demanding that each company issue an immediate statement withdrawing support from the bill and asking Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to veto this bill. But one wonders why their lobbying and presence on the board remained a secret until now.

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  • Danny

    If these companies wanted local policies revoked because they wanted uniformity across the state, then they need to step up with lobbying and dollars to have a statewide nondiscrimination law passed in Tennessee during this session, so that the state can compete nationally and globally. If they are pro-business and not anti-gay, they would achieve this. The public supports such nondiscrimination laws in housing, employment and public accommodations so they would be supporting something the average American supports – nondiscrimination for their family, friends and neighbors.

  • scribe31

    this really pisses me off…. just spent 1300 dollars in this state camping in the smokey moutains…. sorry that i gave them anything…

  • dc2341

    I don’t believe this, many of those corporations are out spoken in their support for gay rights and do indeed offer many benefits to LGBT employees…

  • ChrisC

    Are you guys sure that it wasn’t just the LOCAL divisions of these companies that donated money? Because I truely find it hard to believe that major companies like AT&T, Comcast, FedEx and Nissan would go and commit one of the biggest public relations blunders that they could possibly commit by donating to anti-LGBT causes. Especially considering that people are finally understanding the power of the “Pink Dollar”.

  • Ron deHarte

    I’m interested in knowing if these corporate representatives voted to support the local chamber of commerce lobby efforts. The businesses listed here may serve on the board of directors but that does not mean they support every action that comes to the board.

    I know in California AT&T is a tremendous supporter of diversity and the LGBT community. There are Fortune 500 Companies listed that are certainly making huge advances in workplace equality and support of diversity in the community. I would not like to see companies that are making a difference in the lives of their LGBT employees being called out for an action that really does not represent the company as a whole.

    Dozens of businesses are represented on the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce board. Do we actually know who voted to support the Chamber’s lobby effort? Once we know who voted to support or not support equal rights is when we should stand up in protest.

    And a loud protest that should be.

  • Mark Snyder

    ATT was GLAAD’s corporate honoree in San Francisco.

  • Mike in Asheville

    How about promoting “boycotts by convenience”?

    For example, I am unsure of the effectiveness of attempting a boycott of, say, FedEx. Instead, though, there is a great ability to inform FedEx of boycotting by convenience. For my part, I wrote FedEx’s customer service and informed them that I will no longer be going to FedEx first, rather, I will use UPS first, and rely on FedEx as needed.

    UPS and FedEx offer and charge pretty much for the same services. We have used FedEx more out of habit, but switching to using UPS as our primary service provider, will shift our former 75% FedEx vs 25% UPS to 25% FedEx and 75% UPS.

    There are thousands upon thousands of gay and lesbian office workers who, daily, process shipments with FedEx and UPS. If those who use FedEx first and UPS second switch companies, FedEx would get the message that involving themselves in wedge-political issues is bad for business.

    For other companies, ATT is not the only phone provider nor is Comcast the only cable option. Whirpool is but 1 appliance supplier, KPMG is but 1 (shitty) accounting firm. As for United Health Care and Blue Cross/Shield, shame on them. Have never purchased a Nissan, but anyone in the market for a new car should let Nissan know you are looking elsewhere, and why.

  • Robert in NYC

    I received mail from, an alledged progressive wireless phone service which stated that AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless donate to right wing organizations. I don’t know how they found that information but I informed HRC about it and they claim both companies have a good record as gay-friendly employers. I don’t know what to believe.

  • Ron deHarte

    HRC released the following statment on this issue –

    HRC Joins Tennessee’s Business Community in Opposition to Anti-Gay SB 632/HB 600

    HRC Calls on Gov. Haslam to Veto Bill, Major Tennessee Businesses Including Alcoa, AT&T, and FedEx Support Equality


    Washington – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, and Tennessee’s major businesses are united in opposition to SB 632/HB 600, which prohibits cities and counties from banning discriminatory practices by any means and passed the state legislature earlier this week. The bill, endorsed by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, denies local units of government the opportunity to decide if discrimination is wrong. Clearly based in anti-LGBT sentiment, the bill comes after the city of Nashville passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Today, Tennessee’s largest businesses, including Alcoa, Federal Express, and AT&T have publicly stated their opposition to this discriminatory bill.

    “This bill is not only discriminatory in nature, but also goes against the old Republican value that what’s good for business is good for the country,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “The fair-minded people of the Volunteer state are above anti-LGBT discrimination and so are the major businesses that call Tennessee home. We are happy to have these corporations join us in the call for fairness.”

    Tennessee-based major corporations have made the following public statements in opposition to SB 632/HB 600:


    “Alcoa provides equal employment opportunity without discrimination and supports state and local legislation protecting the rights of all community members. We do not agree with the chamber on this issue and would ask that the governor veto the bill.”


    “FedEx values and promotes the unique contributions, perspectives, and differences of our team members worldwide. FedEx does not tolerate discrimination of any kind, and is committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. FedEx did not lobby for SB632/HB600 – it is our policy not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. While FedEx is a member of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, we do not support every position proposed by the Chamber.”


    “AT&T does not support any laws or efforts that are discriminatory. AT&T does support the principals of ensuring that state and local laws are consistent, which is the stated purpose of HB 600/SB 632. However, the bill has become implicated in efforts to erode the rights of the gay community, which we do not support. AT&T has a long history and longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, and its policies address diversity in areas including race, creed, religion, sex, and particularly sexual orientation. In fact, Diversity Inc. has ranked AT&T in its Top 10 Companies for LGBT employees, and we were honored to be recognized as one of the ‘2010 Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality’ by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. We are proud of our commitment to this community.”

    Currently, more than 135 cities and counties have passed ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, with more than one-sixth of those cities and counties located in southern states.

    HRC applauds the efforts of the Tennessee Equality Project, the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, and the City of Nashville to defend against this unwarranted state intrusion into local affairs. During the course of this campaign, HRC contributed $10,000 to support the Tennessee Equality Project and asked its members and supporters in the state to contact state lawmakers in opposition to the legislation.

    The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

  • Truth

    Considering that the Senior VP of FedEx donated $9,999 to the anti-gay “Yes on 8” campaign in CA to repeal gay marriage, I can’t say we should be surprised at all.

  • oldgayvermonter

    Ah Tennessee, yet another state to NEVER spend a dime in. We shouldn’t be surprised at this. I was looking up the state’s record on evolution to make a point…and I found this!!!
    So what kind of treatment can we expect? Future inbred generations without any scientific education will probably be worshiping christian monkey gods. lol

  • Jeffree

    @Truth (#11). Individual contributions by corporate employees are not controlled by the corporation, so we can’t fault a company for how its execs vote on their own time.

    (FedEx has at least 5 SVPs by the way, which one was it?)

    FedEx & AT&T have, along w/ other companies, have released statements* saying they don’t support the bill. In such competitive industries, they’d be dumb to let their major competitors have stronger records on equality.

    *as noted above.

    Full disclosure: I live 5 blocks from a FedEx store but have no other ties to them. Our UPS delivery driver is a 9 out of 10, i’m fixing to sign up for beer-of-the month club so I can see him more often !

  • IAbuseGays

    To cut down on some of the pro-corporate shilling:

    (a) Company’s can and do control any action that high profile executives take in the form of the employment agreement between the company and the employee.

    (b) If you spent less time trying to defend these companies, and looked up the background, you would realize they are on the board, and in fact, this issue is exactly as the reporting is described rather than what you want to make up. Just because something does not fit your cherished beliefs about American corporations does not mean it is not true. I noticed no one of you provide much more than you own assertions. No links. No anything. Just what you believe.

    (c) Defending this as “it is just the local part of the company” illustrates a really ignorant understanding of corporations. Let me put in plain terms- any corporate entity allowing a local part of the company to operate is still liable and responsible for that local part of the company. There is no way in hell this was not passed up the food chain. That’s now how American businesses- which are not democracies by the way- work.

    (d) Most of the comments here are ideological rather than factual. What I just described in a-c is factually how big businesses work. The only way it does not work this way is (1) the company is not well managed or (2) it is a subsidiary or some other legally separated entity not responsible to the parent company in this way.

  • robert in NYC

    Jeffree, if individuals working for Fedex or any others on the list are donating to right wing hate groups, how is it then that Fedex, UPS et al are listed as being donors? If a company check was used, I assume it would have to have been authorized by someone in upper management. An ordinary employee cannot authorize such a payment on a company check. This only proves that Fedex et al are lying or aren’t doing a good job at monitoring its financial distributions.

  • Ernest

    I have lived in Nashville for a year and half I’ve never dealt with homophobia, because I didn’t go looking for it! I was myself a 25 y.o. From NY. There are guys whom you’d never guess were gay. The south tends to remain conservative , but the inbred comment is spoken like a typical fag. Really inbred? I’ve never met a more welcoming bunch of people in my life, friends who cared more, and honesty! If my family lived in Nashville I would have stayed! I am sick of ppl judging based on where ppl come from. Well as a gay man, I like cock and I have a cock, two cocks doesn’t mean I gotta act a pussy. I’m all for the gay community and those guys who act like women are just asking to be beat down, it’s more of an older human rights violation when women are considered pretty much slaves with no rights! Man the fuck up and act like a normal guy, you get what you ask for! If the rest of the homophobes see us as NORMAL EVERYDAY PEOPLE who are just different in the bedroom hell we’d have rights already, but no keep acting like silly faggots and getting your ass handed to you, but when you cry homophobia stop and think ” did I bring homophobia to me?”. Don’t act like a victim, there plenty of gay ppl in this world doing just fine and going about life the way free of harm from assholes who have problems against gays. You have a dick? And balls too? Fucking act like it!!! Men control this world, see my point!

  • DavyJones

    The Tn Camber of Commerce and Industry’s quote in the linked article about their support is this: “Our support of HB 600/SB 632 is related solely to the issue of whether local governments should be able to enact laws that set employment law standards higher than, or different from, those at the federal and state levels. Our position is now, and has historically been, that employment standards from the government should be consistent across the state and not create an additional burden on companies that are endeavoring to be competitive and provide jobs to all Tennesseans based on their individual qualifications and merit.”

    And honestly, they have a point here. It is in their best interest that laws and standards be uniform across the state; it makes company policy much easier to maintain and enforce. And while in this case; many of the companies already meet the tougher standards in the Nashville bill (hence their high rating’s by the HRC); with legal matters allowing this would open the door for more various levels of regulation across the state.

    I disagree with the aim of this bill; but I can understand the CoC&I’s support of it; and I doubt it has anything to do with being anti-gay. If that was the only reason for their support, they wouldn’t already be meeting these non-discrimination standards voluntarily…

  • Cam

    To all of the people trying to use the defense that “Well maybe it’s only “”Local”” branches of these companies that did it.

    Well guess what, any time a “Local” branch does something that is against the national policy, the National organizations will jump in immdiately, disavow what the local did and try to remedy it just like Tim Horton’s coffee did when a local champter donated free coffee to an anti-gay group.

    So far I don’t see any annoucements from these companies that they disagree with this ruling.

  • robert in NYC

    Cam, I agree. When HRC emailed to say they were unaware that both AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless branches of their respective corporations have donated to right wing antigay hate groups based on their list that both had good records to the contrary, I wonder why they haven’t bothered to investigate the information provided. Either they are doing a thorough job investigating companies’ donations or they’re not. It really makes me uneasy and distrustful of anything HRC is doing, until I get further clarification but I doubt if it will be forthcoming.

  • Eric in BNA

    Yeah, the Tennessee way of life has taken a complete 180 since the 2010 elections. Our ‘progressive’ GOP-controlled state legislature has spent the last two sessions enacting corn-cob-up-their-a**es legislature instead of passing ANY bill to aid in the creation of jobs (as they promised in their 2010 campaigns). Gotta love it!

  • robert in NYC

    I received a surprising response from HRC yesterday regarding ATT and Verizon Wireless branches of their respective corporations. Apparently, HRC only goes by a corporation’s CEI (Corporate Equality Index), not every component or department of a corporation). So there you have it, they’re not going to investigate. The CEI is good enough for them.

  • SayWhat

    Those companies will be getting my money, Thanks :D

  • Josie

    I’m not surprised :’-( I am a MTF transgendered ex-CAT worker. They terminated me after my first month of “transitioning full-time”. I was also a new member of their LGBTQ “Lambda” group. Caterpillar only believes in diversity when they are trying to sell themselves to the public. The president of CAT is about to get an early Christmas summons.


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