By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com July 14 2011 2:05 PM ET
Stopping businesses from discriminating against gay people would be bad for the economy, or so says the governor of Tennessee.
Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill in May that voided antidiscrimination ordinances created by cities and counties, which had barred employers and others from discriminating against gay people.
But Haslam told the Nashville City Paper that he's not only against local ordinances. If someone proposed adding gay people to the state's antidiscrimination law, he'd oppose that too.
"Why wouldn’t I add gays as a protected class? I just feel like there’s enough regulation coming down," he said in a back-and-forth with a reporter.
Haslam argues that stopping discrimination is bad for business.
"It is a business issue in the sense that businesses keep having regulations put on them," he insisted. "Let’s say I’m a Muslim subcontractor who wants to work on the convention center, and I feel very strong that regulation shouldn’t be placed on me. Is that a Christian conservative issue?"
Although Haslam repeatedly said he's against gay marriage, the governor says he's not necessarily pro -discrimination.
"It depends," he told the City Paper reporter. "How are you defining discrimination? You could say I’m discriminating already because I’m saying I’m not for gay marriage. Is that discriminating?"
"Yes," reporter Jeff Woods answered.
"Is it? OK, then I’m drawing a line there," said Haslam. "But I’m not going to draw a line when it comes to hiring practices that I’m involved in."
Haslam relegates the decision on whether to discriminate to the human resources department of any local business.
"If I’m running a business, I’m going to go out and hire the best people I can, period," he said. "On the other hand, I don’t know that I necessarily want the local city council telling me my HR practices."