Late Monday, May 22, 2012, Governor Bill Haslam vetoed Senate Bill 3597, a bill designed to protect the religious liberty right of students on the campuses of Tennessee’s publicly funded colleges and universities. The bill also included a provision to encourage Vanderbilt to reconsider its “anti-discrimination” policy that actually discriminates against Christian student organizations on its campus.
The Family Action Council of Tennessee released the following statement in response to the Governor’s veto:
STATEMENT ON GOVERNOR’S VETO OF SB 3597
Although we have not been able to obtain confirmation from the Governor’s office itself, it is our understanding that on Monday Governor Haslam vetoed Senate Bill 3597. Obviously the outcome is not what had been hoped for by our organization, national conservative organizations, the bill sponsors, the campus ministries that will probably be disbanded, and the nearly sixty percent of the legislature that voted for the bill.
We share the Governor’s desire that government regulation of private businesses be held to the minimum, but our civil rights laws are a prime example of government regulating a private business when fundamental values are at risk. And there is no doubt that religious liberty is a fundamental American value.
In our view the bill was effectively a 13 month “temporary injunction” designed to protect these student religious organizations while the law applicable to Vanderbilt’s all-comer’s policies was being sorted out. Under the circumstances, we thought the bill was an appropriate course to take to avoid irreparable harm to organizations that will now most likely be disbanded.