In this year’s General Assembly, state legislators considered a slate of hateful legislation that discriminates against the LGBTQ community. Legislators introduced12 different bills with plans to ban gay marriage, allow adoption agencies to decline placing children with LGBTQ parents, and more.
After seeing these anti-LGBTQ bills moving through the General Assembly, businesses like Amazon, Hilton, Lyft, the Tennessee Titans, Nike, and Warby Parker wrote an open letter to Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally and Speaker Glen Casada opposing the legislation.
“Put simply, these bills do not reflect the values of our companies. We are disappointed to see the legislature consider discriminatory legislation. The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that bills that target LGBTQ people are bad for our employees and their families, bad for our customers and bad for business. This is not a direction in which states move when they are seeking to provide successful, thriving hubs for business and economic development.”
In response, Speaker Casada said, “Tennessee provides a fertile ground for them to make money and be prosperous. And that’s what they should do. They should take care of their stockholders and not get so much involved in politics.”
“Don’t get so much involved in politics.”
It’s an old refrain from politicians looking to maintain their grasp on power. We see it when teachers share their experience with school vouchers and are told to stick to teaching. We see it when students advocate for gun safety and are dismissed with vague sayings of being too young. I never imagined that a pro-corporation Republican would tell businesses to “not get so much involved in politics” but even that line has now been crossed.
The reason politicians use the “don’t get involved” refrain is simple – if you’re paying attention, it can impact their chances of re-election. The more attention paid to the bad actions a politician takes, the more voters and especially donors start to notice. “Don’t get involved” really means “don’t take away my power”. And politicians who pass hateful legislation deserve to lose every bit of power they have.
We’re at a defining moment in history. That’s why Democratic parties across Tennessee work so hard at registering voters, running candidates, and getting everyone involved in politics at every level.
For our government to work best, we need more people involved in politics, not less.