Today, HRC released new survey results showing Tennesseans’ broad opposition to anti-LGBTQ legislation in the state’s legislature.
“For years, a group of extreme lawmakers have been targeting LGBTQ people in Tennessee, spreading misinformation and using vicious, harmful rhetoric while doing so,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “These anti-LGBTQ lawmakers have been trying to use any legislative vehicle possible to target and single out LGBTQ people in Tennessee. Yet, as these new survey results show, most people in Tennessee have no interest in pursuing divisiveness for the sake of divisiveness, and think that anti-LGBTQ bills are a solution in search of a problem. Elected officials should be looking out for all of their constituents, not targeting the most vulnerable among them to appeal to a shrinking population.”
“The support we receive in cities like Martin, Dickson, Murfreesboro, and Morristown confirms these poll results,” said Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project. “Rural and urban voters know that Tennessee can’t succeed by stigmatizing LGBTQ people with attack legislation. It’s time for the Legislature to put these old battles behind us so we can build our state together.”
On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign, Change Research surveyed 893 likely voters in Tennessee from January 30-31 in order to understand their reaction to the anti-LGBTQ legislative agenda being pushed by state legislators. A majority of voters oppose these anti-LGBTQ bills and support policies that protect the rights of LGBTQ Tennesseans.
- Voters, including Republicans, are not demanding laws like this, and say legislators are too focused on divisive issues instead of real problems. Just 4% of all voters and 1% of Republicans say that “regulating transgender rights” is among the most important issues for the Tennessee state government to address, the least important policy priority tested. Further, a 62% majority – including majorities of voters across age, race, gender, and education divides – say that “Legislators are too focused on divisive issues and should be focusing on pressing issues that will actually have an impact on Tennesseans, like growing the economy.”
- The issue that Tennessee voters prioritize most is healthcare costs (41%), and a 55% majority disapprove of the job Republican leaders in the state are doing handing their #1 issue.
- Voters decisively reject anti-transgender legislation. Majorities oppose proposed legislation that would discriminate against LGBTQ people, and strong opposition is greater than strong support for each of these policies.
- Tennessee voters express clear opposition to policies that seek to regulate transgender minors. A 63% majority opposes a medical care ban for transgender minors, and 56% oppose a bill requiring the State Attorney General to defend anti-LGBTQ policies in Tennessee schools. Majorities also reject proposals that would make it legal for Tennesseans to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Six-in-ten voters oppose Tennessee’s new anti-LGBTQ adoption law, with strong opponents outnumbering strong supporters two-to-one. A 56% majority also opposes granting businesses a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
- Tennesseeans instead support new laws to protect the rights of LGBTQ people and a more inclusive view of society. A 57% majority of Tennessee voters say that “We need to stop stigmatizing transgender people as a society” and majorities support new policies that would protect the rights of transgender people. An overwhelming 72% of voters support “Protecting LGBTQ people against discrimination in the workplace,” and 49% strongly support this.
- These divisive, anti-LGBTQ bills reinforce for voters the negative things they think about Tennessee elected officials. A 57% majority disapprove of the job that Governor Lee and Republicans in the State Legislature are doing handling LGBTQ rights and just 26% say those leaders “respect the rights of LGBTQ people.” With voters supporting a more inclusive and less divisive agenda, it is no wonder that just 38% say Governor Lee and state legislators “share my values” and 55% say they are “out of touch.”