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Janis Ian Slams Antigay Tenn. Law

Janis Ian Slams Antigay Tenn. Law


Janis Ian, the Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter and a longtime Nashville resident, expressed disappointment after Tennessee governor Bill Haslam signed into law a bill that voided the city's new LGBT antidiscrimination ordinance.

The Nashville city ordinance, passed in April, barred companies that contract with the city from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. "The antidiscrimination ordinance was just one example of our city's desire to do what is right, rather than what is expedient," Ian said.

But the new state law -- one that had been supported by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry prior to a national uproar by gay bloggers and advocates -- prohibits cities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances that are stricter than state law.

Haslam signed the bill into law Monday; a spokesman toldBloomberg Businessweek that the governor "had concerns about local governments telling businesses what to do, especially the potential burden on small businesses."

Ian issued the following statement to The Advocate on the new state law.

"I am immensely proud of the continuing growth and diversity Nashville has experienced during my 23 years here. The anti-discrimination ordinance was just one example of our city's desire to do what is right, rather than what is expedient.

"It's unfortunate that with a stroke of his pen, a politician can undermine Nashville's right to determine its own future, and allow businesses to continue discriminating against the very people who voted him into office.

"However, I do not, and cannot, believe that ignorance will outweigh justice in the end. What is truly important here -- the right of every citizen to work, and to live, in a place that welcomes diversity -- will be reversed. I have every faith in that outcome."

Ian, whose 1975 smash hit "At Seventeen" earned her a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance-Female, lives in Nashville with her wife, Patricia Synder. The couple married in 2003 in Toronto.

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