Nashville’s Progressive Mayor Stands for Trans People

me and megan
The mayor and me

God bless our progressive mayor.

I knew for sure that Megan Barry was a good egg and the right person to be Music City’s next mayor on June 26, 2015. That was the day the US Supreme Court finally did the right thing and made marriage equality the law of the land. No sooner had the news been reported when Metro Council member Barry (toward whom I already leaned, based on her record) hightailed it to the Davidson County clerk’s office. There, she warmly welcomed same-gender couples and officiated over a string of wedding ceremonies. Upon hearing what she’d done, I immediately took steps to volunteer for her ultimately victorious mayoral campaign. Now, months after her historic win — she is Nashville’s first woman mayor — I’m even more proud: Megan Barry has taken a bold, public stand for transgender Tennesseans and against bigoted bills speeding through the Tennessee State Legislature .

Barry, taking a brave step in this notoriously red state, issued a statement on the matter. Here is an excerpt:

This legislation doesn’t reflect Nashville’s values and doesn’t do anything to improve the quality of life for citizens of our city or state. If some lawmakers don’t see the value in recognizing people’s dignity and privacy, I hope they can at least see the negative economic impact and potential loss of revenue to Nashville and the State of Tennessee. We’ve seen the negative effects that similar laws in North Carolina have had on their economy, and we’ve already received indications that conventions might pull out of Nashville or eliminate our city from consideration should HB2414/SB2387 become law – resulting in a potential loss of over $10 million in state and local tax revenue and nearly $58 million in direct visitor spending removed from our economy. 

Out and About‘s recent article highlighting the mayor’s move, specifies the damage the anti-trans bills could do.

At the state level, it would amount to a loss of $4.5 million in taxes. The city stands to lose $5.8 million. …

Mayor Barry released the statement regarding specifically the anti-transgender bathroom bill, which passed the House Education Administration & Planning Committee — after it was resurrected by lawmakers who’d originally sent it to summer study — as well as the counseling discrimination bill that passed the House this week (after passing in the Senate last year) and is on its way to Governor Haslam for his signature.

One would think smart lawmakers would see the negative press being given to Mississippi and North Carolina, which recently passed similarly bigoted bills under the guise of so-called “religious freedom.” Apparently not. Now, The Tennessean reports companies including Viacom, Dow Chemical, and Hewlett Packard and musicians Emmylou Harris, Chely Wright, Ty Herndon, and Miley Cyrus are expressing disapproval of or concerns over the legislation. Also speaking out against the measures are “major players” in the Nashville tourism industry. It is likely public disdain for the pro-discrimination bills will grow.

Kudos to all of the people standing against legislated hate in the Volunteer State. But I have to tip the hat especially to Megan Barry, who is making me feel really, really proud.

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