March 2020 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) has signed legislation that will allow taxpayer-funded foster care and adoption agencies in the state to discriminate against people of the “wrong” religion, members of the LGBTQ community and others.

Lee signed the bill into law in late January. The Associated Press (AP) later reported that he did so despite lobbying from several corporations that argued that if the state is perceived as hostile to LGBTQ people, it will be difficult to recruit talented workers.

The AP reported that officials from IKEA, Mars Inc., Nestle USA, Unilever and Danone North America asked Lee not to sign the bill. Online retailing giant Amazon also opposed the measure.

“This issue is not political,” stated a letter signed by representatives from Mars and Nestle. “As a core part of our business principles, we firmly believe that all people are equal and that every person deserves to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness.”

In an email, IKEA expressed its concerns over the bill.

“As a member of the business community in Tennes­see, we have communicated to lawmakers at every level that bills targeting LGBTQ people are bad for our co-workers and their families, bad for our customers, and bad for business,” said Carolyn Bell, the company’s U.S. public affairs manager.

Americans United also opposed the measure.