Curb Records sues Tennessee governor over transphobic bathroom bill

The label argues the new law falsely portrays trans people as a threat

Curb Records – alongside its philanthropic offshoot, the Mike Curb Foundation – has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the divisive Tennessee law HB 1182, which forces trans-friendly businesses to advertise that they allow gender-diverse patrons to use their facilities using demeaning language.

House Bill 1182 went into effect on Thursday (July 1) and requires businesses to post a warning sign if they allow transgender customers to use their bathrooms. The signs – which Curb Records argues “spread[s] the State’s preferred message of fear and intolerance towards transgender people” – read: “THIS FACILITY MAINTAINS A POLICY OF ALLOWING THE USE OF RESTROOMS BY EITHER BIOLOGICAL SEX REGARDLESS OF THE DESIGNATION OF THE RESTROOM”.

The bill was signed into law back in May by Tennessee governor William Lee, who is now being sued by Curb Records as, according to its founder Mike Curb (himself a former California lieutenant governor), it violates the constitutional First Amendment right to free speech, Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection under federal law, and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibiting employment discrimination based on sex.

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“The required notice serves no legitimate or rational purpose and solves no actual problem,” Curb argued in his suit, filed June 30. “It instead seeks to conscript Tennessee businesses and other institutions to spread the State’s preferred message of fear and intolerance towards transgender people and to falsely portray them as a threat to the safety or privacy of other members of the public.”

In a statement, Curb further expounded on his disgust for the transphobic law: “It’s outrageous to have the government come in and force me to send such a derogatory message to my employees and customers. My grandmother Eloisa Salazar faced incredible discrimination as she grew up on the Mexico-U.S. border, and her experience shaped my family’s and my company’s values.

“Our foundation has been dedicated to inclusion and nondiscrimination, including for LGBT people, from day one. It is hard to believe that our LGBT community in Tennessee is being assaulted with so much harmful legislation, much of it being signed by Governor Lee, at a time when our country needs to come together more than ever before.”

Curb’s suit against Lee follows a similar one filed last week by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which also aims to challenge HB 1182.

In addition to his work as a Grammy-winning songwriter and producer, Curb has long been a champion of human rights and progressive movements. He founded the Mike Curb Foundation in 1998, and through it has provided grants and gifts totalling over £72million (US$100million) to support state education, historic preservation, homeless individuals and more.

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Curb Records was founded in 1963, and has operated out of Nashville, Tennessee since.

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