A federal judge in Tennessee has overturned an anti-trans law that required Tennessee business owners to display signage with clearly non-inclusive language.
House Bill 1182 was signed into law one year agoThe law was amended on July 1, 2021. One week after that, Bob Bernstein, the owner of a restaurant in Nashville called “Fido,” filed a lawsuit alongside the ACLU of Tennessee.
Bernstein’s restaurant allows patrons to decide for themselves which restroom they feel most comfortable using. Bernstein said that the notice that every business must post the new law would suggest that Bernstein’s restaurant is not inclusive.
The mandated notice must be posted in all capital letters read as follows: “NOTICE: THIS FACILITY MAINTAINS A POLICY OF ALLOWING THE USE OF RESTROOMS BY EITHER BIOLOGICAL SEX, REGARDLESS OF THE DESIGNATION ON THE RESTROOM.”
Tennessee has a new law that requires this sign to be displayed in businesses that allow transgender people to use their restrooms. It feels as though it was designed for the experience it would bring to a Smithsonian exhibit. pic.twitter.com/s4xfNmb7my
— Gillian Branstetter (@GBBranstetter) May 19, 2021
For refusing to post the notice at their restrooms, business owners are in violation of the law could be jailed up to six months and fined up to $500.
Aleta A. Trauger, U.S. District Judge, filed an injunction last year against the enforcement of this law. On Tuesday, she issued a ruling finding that the law was indeed unconstitutional, on the grounds that it violated business owners’ free speech rights.
“It would do a disservice to the First Amendment to judge the Act for anything other than what it is: a brazen attempt to single out trans-inclusive establishments and force them to parrot a message that they reasonably believe would sow fear and misunderstanding about the very transgender Tennesseans whom those establishments are trying to provide with some semblance of a safe and welcoming environment,” Trauger wrote in her opinion.
Lawyers for the state claimed that the rule was meant to be neutral and that any concern about language being harmful was fictitious. However, their use of the term “biological sex,” which anti-trans activists frequently use to disregard a person’s identity and pronouns, suggested otherwise.
“Transgender Tennesseans are real. Businesses and establishments that welcome them are real. And the viewpoints that those individuals and businesses hold are real, even if they differ from the views of some legislators or government officials,” Trauger wrote.