All government employees are protected by the U.S. Constitution against irrational discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition, some measure of protection already exists under Title VII based on gender, which has been held to include gender identity and expression.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and several courts have interpreted Title VII to protect LGBT employees. Lambda Legal maintains that the EEOC adjudications regarding Title VII’s coverage should supersede contrary authority that exists in some federal circuits.
YES, Tennessee has a criminal law that punishes people with an HIV diagnosis specifically for nondisclosure of HIV status prior to sexual conduct. A violation of this statute is classified as a felony.
YES, in recent years, there has been at least one criminal prosecution for HIV nondisclosure in Tennessee. In fact, Tennessee is considered aggressive in pursuing such prosecutions, because at least 5 such prosecutions have taken place over the last 5 years.
NO, Tennessee does not have laws that criminalize or enhance penalties for biting, spitting and/or throwing bodily fluids or substances (such as urine or excrement) if a person has been diagnosed with HIV, but that does not mean the state could not prosecute a person engaged in such activities under general criminal laws or argue for sentence enhancements based on the person’s HIV diagnosis.
YES, Tennessee also has laws that enhance punishments for HIV-positive people involved in commercial sexual transactions. It is difficult to obtain accurate data on how often these laws are utilized in Tennessee, but there is growing evidence that in general these types of laws targeting sex workers are used much more frequently than other types of HIV criminalization laws.
Any person. See 36 TCA § 36-1-115.
Some granted in a limited number of jurisdictions. No appellate decisions. Results likely vary by county and by judge. Anyone considering petitioning for a second parent adoption should contact, or have their counsel contact, Lambda Legal.
Recent signs of growing tolerance. Adoption by individual lesbian approved in In re Adoption of M.J.S., 44 S.W.3d 41 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2000). Sexual-orientation-neutral visitation standards adopted. See Hogue v. Hogue, 2004 WL 578593 (Tenn. Ct. App., March 24, 2004); Eldridge v. Eldridge, 42 S.W.3d 82 (Tenn. 2001) (affirming unrestricted overnight visitation for lesbian mother living with partner).
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of marriage equality, state and local officials can and should stop enforcing their marriage bans immediately. But it is possible that officials in some places may not start allowing couples to marry until the federal courts issue orders directly prohibiting them from enforcing their state or territory’s marriage ban. Federal lawsuits have been brought in all states that continue to enforce their marriage bans as well as in Puerto Rico, and we expect attorneys in those cases to promptly ask the courts to issue injunctions or to take other steps now that the Supreme Court has ruled. We know from experience, however, that this process can take a different amount of time in each jurisdiction depending on how quickly the courts move and how much government officials attempt to drag out the process. The process could be resolved as quickly as within a matter of days or it could take a bit longer depending on the particular jurisdiction.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-1015 (2012)
Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-1016 (2012)
Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-21-101 (2011)