Gay councilman doesn't include gay community in city legislation

Openly gay Metro Councilman Keith Durbin, who represents Metro District 18, tells the Nashville City Paper that he didn't include Nashville's GLBT community in legislation that establishes a procurement nondiscrimination program because he was not approached to do so.

The bill was signed into law on Monday as an effort to ensure women- and minority-owned businesses have an equal shot at Metro contracts and subcontracts  The City Paper reports that the bill sets up the Office of Minority and Women Businesses Assistance, which will be under the Metro Finance Department serving as a watchdog group.

The story (click here), written by the City Paper's Nate Rau, says Durbin said he was not approached by GLBT community leaders about being included in the program. "He said it was something he would look into in the future," quotes the story.

“It’s certainly something I will take a look at,” Durbin told the City Paper. “If people want to make a case and have their voices heard, then they need to make a point to do so sooner in the process.”

The story does not answer the question of why Councilman Durbin or Mayor Karl Dean didn't approach GLBT community leaders and ask to include them in the process.

The story also quotes Nashville GLBT Chamber President John Wade; Tennessee Equality President Christopher Sanders and Out & About Newspaper Publisher Jerry Jones.

In the story Mayor Dean's office referred questions to an Atlanta-based law firm that conducted Metro’s diversity study and assisted the Metro legal department in drafting the bill. The City Paper reports that Griffin & Strong attorney Rodney Strong said the exclusion of GLBT-owned businesses comes from the fact there is no constitutional or legal precedent for including them in procurement nondiscrimination programs.

“There simply isn’t any precedent for it,” Strong told the Nashville City Paper, adding it would be difficult to certify a GLBT-owned business.

That statement doesn't ring true - The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce offers such a program that certifies GLBT owned business. The Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce is an affiliate member of the National gay chamber, and would offer such services as part of its affiliation.

The NGLCC Supplier Diversity Initiative (SDI) certifies Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and/or Transgender owned Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs) and works to provide opportunities for LGBTBEs to gain exposure within corporate procurement processes.

In June 2005 the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) signed a historic memorandum of understanding (MOU), designed to increase opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) owned businesses.

The release says that "while the NGLCC launched an initiative for LGBT suppliers to contract with some of America's top corporations last year, the Department of the Interior is the first federal agency to sign such an MOU expressly aimed at increasing opportunities for LGBT businesses within the federal government."

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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