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White House Calls Tennessee Anti-Trans Bill 'Mean Spirited'

White House Calls Tennessee Anti-Trans Bill 'Mean Spirited'

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Speaking at a press conference, presidential spokesman Josh Earnest criticized transphobic laws that "seek to target and marginalize one small segment of the population."

During a press conference Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest called an anti-trans "bathroom bill" in Tennessee "mean spirited."

Earnest was asked whether the proposed legislation in Tennessee, which would bar transgender students in public schools from using the restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities that don't match their gender identity, would cause the state to lose federal funding. On Monday, Tennessee's Attorney General, Herbert Slatery, said the bill could cost the state millions in government dollars if it becomes law.

Earnest didn't have an answer about whether the state would lose federal funding because "this is a question that individual agencies have been considering," he said, adding that "there are important legal questions that need to be resolved. But I don't have an update for you in terms of when that work will be concluded." "The administration is firmly committed to promoting and defending equal rights of all Americans, including LGBT Americans," he added.

North Carolina, among other states, has faced criticism from big businesess such as Apple and Facebook, as well as from entertainers who oppose the state's anti-LGBT legislation. The state has lost business and jobs, and the same could happen in Tennessee argued Earnest. "Passing mean-spirited bills through the state legislature is not a good endorsement of your business climate."

As more states consider anti-LGBT bills, Earnest told reporters at the press conference that these bills should serve as a reminder that securing civil rights across the country for LGBT people must continue. "This is a good illustration that the fight for civil rights is not over, and demanding equality for every American and ensuring that those Americans are not singled out or targeted because of their sex or their race or what their last name or their religion, or who they love or who they are is a struggle that continues."

Anti-LGBT legislation has been passed in North Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Kansas and Indiana among other states. Legislation is being considered in South Carolina, Tennessee, Minnesota, Missouri and at least 30 other states, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Only a portion of those laws are tied to religious freedom bills, according to CNN.

Across the United States nearly 200 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced in 34 states during the current legislative year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. They report that more than 120 anti-LGBT bills are being or have been considered in just eight southern states: Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Georgia.

Watch Josh Earnest speak about Tennessee's bill below.

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