January 6, 2023
State of Tennessee Officials Agree That a Sign Mandate Targeting LGBTQ+ People Is Unconstitutional and Cannot Be Enforced
Final District Court Order in Curb Records and Mike Curb Foundation’s challenge to HB 1182 ensures the anti-business “Not Welcome” sign law will never take effect
A U.S. District Court has entered a final order prohibiting enforcement of Tennessee HB 1182, a law passed in 2021 requiring businesses to post a demeaning notice if they permit LGBTQ+ patrons to use the same restrooms as other patrons. The order states that the law “is unconstitutional and may not be enforced.” HB 1182 designated precise dimensions, red and yellow coloring, and specific mandated language amounting to a “not welcome” sign to patrons.
The order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Tennessee, Nashville Division, is the result of an agreement with the Defendants, including the Tennessee Governor and other state and Nashville officials, to resolve the federal challenge to HB 1182 brought by independent record label Curb Records and the Mike Curb Foundation. The challenge asserted that HB 1182 promoted a hostile climate for LGBTQ+ people in the state and denied them equal access to businesses open to the public and to employment and educational opportunities.
Mike Curb, founder and Chairman of Curb Records and President of the Mike Curb Foundation, who argued that the law would compel his and other Tennessee businesses to endorse a climate of fear and nonacceptance of LGBTQ+ people, expressed relief that this final order resolves the case and banishes HB 1182 for good.
“Our foundation has been dedicated to inclusion and nondiscrimination, including for LGBT people, from day one,” said Curb. “HB 1182 was an attempt by the government to force me and other businesses in the state to abandon our values and put up a ‘not welcome’ sign to employees and customers. I’m relieved to know that state officials have agreed that the constitution does not permit such a mandate and that this final order means HB 1182 cannot be enforced. The people of Tennessee do not want such harmful anti-LGBT and anti-business legislation and such a law should never have been passed and signed into law.”
Grammy award-winning record producer Mike Curb started his career almost six decades ago in California and Curb Records has operated for the last three decades in Nashville, Tennessee. Curb has worked on LGBTQ+ issues his entire career. In 1978 Curb worked with Harvey Milk on the campaign against the Briggs Initiative and persuaded Ronald Reagan to oppose it, leading to its defeat. The Briggs Initiative would have banned gay schoolteachers in California and was the subject of Harvey Milk’s Academy Award-winning performance in the motion picture Milk, which included footage of Curb and Reagan as leaders who helped defeat the Briggs Initiative. Curb also played a leadership role as a Board member of Belmont University to change the University’s position regarding the LGBTQ+ community. Curb Records and the Mike Curb Foundation have provided grants and gifts totaling more than $100 million in Tennessee in support of education, historic preservation, people facing homelessness, and a wide range of civic and charitable endeavors in local Tennessee communities.
Curb Records and the Mike Curb Foundation were represented in their suit by Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison, attorney Abby Rubenfeld, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).