LGBT rights in Tennessee
|LGBT rights in Tennessee|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal since 1996|
|Gender identity/expression||State does not alter sex on birth certificates for transsexual people|
|Discrimination protections||None statewide|
|Same-sex marriage banned by the state constitution|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Tennessee face legal challenges non-LGBT residents do not. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Tennessee. Same-sex couples and families headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for all the protections available to opposite-sex married couples.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
Tennessee does not permit the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The state forbids, both by statute and in its constitution, the recognition of same-sex marriages and other forms of same-sex partnership solemnized in other jurisdictions. The constitutional amendment defining marriage was approved by 81% of voters in a referendum in November 2006.
In March 2013, the Tennessee Senate voted 32-0 in favor of the resolution SJR 134, which makes August 31 "Traditional Marriage Day" in Tennessee. In April 2013, the Tennessee House of Representatives voted 89-0 in favor of the resolution. In May 2013, Governor Bill Haslam signed the resolution into law.
On October 21, 2013, four Tennessee same-sex couples married in New York or California filed a federal lawsuit, Tanco v. Haslam, seeking to require Tennessee to recognize their marriages.
A May 2013 poll by Vanderbilt University survey of Tennessee registered voters found that 49% of Tennessee voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 32% supporting same-sex marriage, 17% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 46% favoring no legal recognition, 3% said they don't know, and 2% refused to answer. It also found that 69% of Tennessee voters under the age of 30 supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples. A separate question on the same survey found that 62% of Tennessee voters supported domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples, 31% opposed, 4% said they don't know, and 2% refused to answer.
Adoption and parenting
Tennessee allows single persons to adopt children. The state has no explicit prohibition on adoption by same-sex couples or second-parent adoptions.
Tennessee law does not punish discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. In May 2011, Governor Bill Haslam signed the "Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act" into law. The act overrides an ordinance passed earlier in the year by Nashville's Metropolitan Council that required city contractors to include sexual orientation and gender identity in their anti-discrimination policies. It also blocks any local unit of government from requiring that companies bar discrimination on any basis not already covered by state law.
Despite this the cities of Chattanooga, Knoxville Memphis, and Nashville, along with Davidson County have ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Tennessee Board of Regents has established a policy of non-discrimination with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and for students, while the University of Tennessee System covers sexual orientation only.
Tennessee law has punished hate crimes based on sexual orientation since 2001, but the law does not include hate crimes based on gender identity.
In 1977, the Tennessee state legislature passed a birth certificate statute that prohibits the state from altering the sex on birth certificates for transsexual people.
- American Psychological Association: Campbell v. Sundquist, 926 S.W.2d 255, accessed April 9, 2011
- New York Times: Monica Davey, "The 2006 Elections: Ballot Initiatives," November 9, 2006, accessed April 9, 2011
- "SJR 134". Open:States.
- "City Council Passes Controversial Domestic Partners Ordinance". chattanoogan.com. November 12, 2013.
- "Collegedale first TN city to offer benefits to same-sex domestic partners". 5wmctv.com. Aug 06, 2013.
- "Knoxville expanding employee benefits to same-sex, domestic partners". WBIR. October 17, 2013.
- "4 same-sex couples sue Tennessee over gay marriage". USA Today. October 21, 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
- "Poll: 62 percent in Tennessee against gay marriage". The Knoxville News Sentinel. March 5, 2013.
- "In Tennessee, Gay Marriage Has Young Doubting Republicans". Bloomberg. Jun 3, 2013.
- "END OF LEGISLATIVE SESSION 2013". Vanderbilt University. May 14, 2013.
- Human Rights Campaign: "Tennessee Adoption Law", accessed April 9, 2011
- Williams Institute: "Tennessee – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Documentation of Discrimination," September 2009, accessed April 9, 2011
- Gov. Haslam reverses Nashville's anti-discrimination law, May 23, 2011. The Tennessean.
- Morton, David (November 12, 2013). "Chattanooga City Council approves domestic partner benefits". nooga.com. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
- Witt, Gerald (May 1, 2012). "Knoxville City Council passes anti-discrimination ordinance". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
- "Memphis includes gays under anti-discrimination". Knoxville News Sentinel. Associated Press. October 17, 2012. Retrieved October 17, 2012. "The Memphis City Council has included sexual orientation and gender identity in an ordinance that bans discrimination in city hiring."
- "Statement of Non-Discrimination". Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
- "Discrimination & Harassment - Complaint & Investigation Procedure : P-080". Tennessee Board of Regents. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
- "EEO/AA Statement /Non-Discrimination Statement". University of Tennessee. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
- "File a Complaint". University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
- "Office of Equity & Diversity". University of Tennessee at Martin. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
- "UTHSC Office of Equity and Diversity". University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
- "EEO/AA Statement /Non-Discrimination Statement". University of Tennessee Space Institute. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
- Tennessee Hate Crimes Law at Human Rights Campaign.
- "Transgender Legal History". translegalhistory.info. Retrieved 2013-10-22.