TEP PAC endorses Karl Dean for Governor of Tennessee

TEP PAC, a state political action committee affiliated with the Tennessee Equality Project, announces its endorsement of Karl Dean for Governor of Tennessee.

According to TEP PAC Chair H.G. Stovall, “Since Karl Dean was Mayor of Nashville he has worked strategically with the LGBTQ community to advance pro-equality public policy. He supported and signed the first inclusive non-discrimination ordinance for municipal government employees in Tennessee. He was the first mayor to sign Freedom to Marry’s pledge, and his administration worked against anti-equality legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly.  He has actively engaged our community throughout his campaign for governor and has the best public policy record on our issues of anyone who has ever run for the office. His inclusive campaign offers a stark contrast to his opponent Bill Lee whose statements and actions raise the red flag of extremism.”


Bill Lee’s Positions on LGBTQ Issues

Lee Opposed Same Sex Marriage, Suggested He Could Support a “Bathroom Bill

According to The Tennessean, “Out of the six candidates, Republican Bill Lee is the only one who addresses his views on marriage and the LGBTQ community directly on his campaign website. The Williamson County businessman describes his belief that ‘marriage is between a man and a woman,’ and hints at transgender bathroom policies. He states ‘there are two sexes: female and male.’ But Lee said ‘most education issues are best decided at the local level.’ In an interview Thursday, Lee echoed his sentiment on bathroom policies, though ‘if the rights of citizens are being infringed, then the state has a role to play there.’ Lee said he supports having the state attorney general represent school systems in the event they’re sued for enforcing a bathroom policy, a concept proposed under a version of the bathroom bill that failed this year.” [Tennessean, 7/30/18]

He still lists opposition to marriage equality on his campaign website:  https://www.billlee.com/our-tennessee-values/


Lee Opposed Nondiscrimination Protections for LGBT Community

According to the Tennessean, “In the FACT guide, Lee describes the notion of creating another protected class based on gender or sexual orientation as ‘identity politics.’ ‘I would never advocate for any policy that discriminates against anyone,’ Lee said in the interview Thursday, citing his Christian faith. ‘There is no discrimination that I’m advocating for or that I would support.’ In 2011, Lee, as CEO of Lee Company, sent an email to members of Nashville’s Metro Council urging them to vote against the contractor nondiscrimination ordinance the city was considering.” [Tennessean, 7/30/18]

We add that he told council members "it would place an undue burden on companies like mine here in Nashville" and that he believed the ordinance was "driven by motives that are not at all in the interest of business or Nashville for that matter."


Bathroom bills are not only a danger to students, but also to the state’s economy.

According to the Associated Press, “A transgender bathroom bill in the Tennessee legislature failed Monday after the House sponsor said she was withdrawing the legislation while waiting to see how legal challenges play out in other states that have passed similar measures. The bill’s demise follows intense lobbying from both supporters and opponents of the measure and questions about potential economic fallout if it were to become law.” [Associated Press, 4/19/16]


Business leaders have opposed bathroom bills because of the economic risks and the risks to the state’s education funding.

According to the Associated Press, “Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who said he had received calls and emails from a number of business people about the measure, had raised concerns that the state could lose education funding if the measure were to ever become law.” [Associated Press, 4/19/16]


Further documentation of Bill Lee’s positions can be found in his answers to Family Action Council of Tennessee’s Video Voter Guide  https://tnvoterguide.org/gubernatorial-2018/bill-lee


Do you think that either the concept of “gender,” as distinguished from “sex,” or “gender identity” should be included as a protected class in Tennessee’s civil rights laws? Why or why not?

It’s a basic principle that our laws exist to provide equal protection for everyone, and we already have that protection for every single American. At a time when we are way too divided, creating a new special class under the law only makes that problem worse. We don’t need more identity politics.


Do you think the concept of sexual orientation should be included as a protected class in Tennessee’s civil rights laws?  Why or why not?

Equal protection under the law already exists for every American. I don’t think that we should create another special class under the law that will divide us even further.


If litigation over a new or existing law in Tennessee or even in some other state gave the United States Supreme Court an opportunity to reverse its 2015 decision regarding same-sex marriage, would it be your hope that the Court would do so? Why or why not?

I have always believed that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman instituted by God. When the Supreme Court intervened, I think they went around the democratic process and they made a ruling that our Founding Fathers would never have envisioned. I think those decisions should be left up to individual states, and I think we should not be leaving that to the decision of nine unelected judges.



In 2016, the ACLU filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against a local school district for discrimination because it had designated its multi-person locker rooms and bathrooms for use based on the student’s biological sex, even though it made accommodations for students who do not want to use those facilities based on their biological sex. What are your thoughts about whether schools should be allowed to have such a policy and whether the state should protect local schools from complaints and lawsuits over such policies?

Local leaders need to be able to make decisions at the local level, and too often, outside groups come in trying to intimidate communities, burying them with litigation that they can’t afford. As Governor, I will do whatever it takes to defend that local decision-making process, including defending local school districts against intimidation or lawsuits.



In some states, religiously-based adoption agencies are being threatened with the loss of their state license to do adoptions if they will only place children in homes in which the marriage is between a male and female. What position would your administration take on that issue?

My faith in Christ is the most important thing in my life and that will never change. And because of that, I believe that we should rigorously defend religious liberty. It’s part of the reason that Maria and I have traveled this state on a faith in Tennessee tour, visiting faith-based nonprofits, because I know that the government is rarely the answer, but that in fact our faith-based community, our faith-based nonprofits, community organizations are much more efficient, much more effective at solving some of the deepest challenges that we have in this state like adoption. It’s outrageous to me that holding a traditional view of marriage would ever be a disqualifier for an agency to be able to place children in loving homes in Tennessee.


Tennesseans have a clear choice when they cast their ballot for Governor this fall.  Karl Dean will move our state forward. Bill Lee’s views present a danger to Tennessee’s LGBTQ community and risk our economic prosperity.







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