Barry, Sanders discuss non-discrimination ordinance at GLBT Chamber meeting

 (From left) TEP President H.G. Stovall, Metro Council at-large member Megan Barry and TEP Chair Christopher Sanders.
Photo by Joey Leslie

Nashville’s gay and lesbian business community is being urged to keep up its vocal support of Metro Nashville’s proposed non-discrimination ordinance.

Amendment sponsor Megan Barry, an at-large member of the Metro Council, appeared before the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce at its July 28 meeting at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel. Along with Chris Sanders, chairman of the Tennessee Equality Project, Barry promoted the ordinance as something that would catch Nashville up to cities such as Louisville and Cincinnati, which have had similar legislation on the books for years.

“We are only focusing on Metro employees, and only trying to add language already adopted by the Metro school board,” Barry said, referencing a more broad effort that failed in 2003.

That legislation added sexual orientation and gender identity to existing nondiscrimination legislation, but would have covered housing and public accommodation as well as employment. By going small, this legislation has a better chance of getting through and then being built upon down the road, Sanders said.

“We know there’s some disappointment that it’s not broader; we’re disappointed too,” he said. ‘But we wanted to pass something, pass a base bill, and then work from there.”

With a 40-member council, the measure will require a 21-vote majority. With 10 cosponsors, Barry already is halfway there, but she and Sanders both caution that there’s plenty of work to be done between now and an Aug. 4, second reading, and even more if the legislation moves past that date to a third, and final, reading.

Both encourage contacting at-large Councilmember Charlie Tygard, who voted yes on first reading, as well as Councilmember Vivian Wilhoite, who will be leaving council and has indicated a desire to run for countywide office. Other than those two, Barry encouraged reaching out to thank council members already on board, and to lean on those who abstained.

“We just need a simple majority,” she said. “The ones who voted ‘no’ the first time out aren’t going to change their minds, and that’s OK. We can work around them.”

In addition to TEP, the move is supported by groups that include the Davidson County Democratic Women, ACLU, TTPC, SIEU, Nashville Women’s Political Caucus, and others. This bodes well for final passage, as it means more people will be leaning on waving council members, Sanders said.

“There are people in Nashville, and people in Tennessee, who support this kind of thing but have not been able to see in enacted,” he said. “This time can be different.”

For more information on the ordinance, as well as how to get involved, visit

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