Metro Council anti-gay bias bill fuels debate

Nashville is now one step closer to extending workplace protections to GLBT people working for city contractors.

The Contract Accountability Non-Discrimination Ordinance passed on a second reading at Metro Council Tuesday night. The council voted 21 to 16 in favor of the bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the current procurement code. The bill was amended on Tuesday to exclude businesses with fewer than 15 employees.

A thirty-minute debate was held during the meeting, with Councilman Ryman waging an unsuccessful bid to defer the bill until June.

The council is scheduled to take the third and final vote on the bill on March 15. Mayor Karl Dean last week stated that he will sign the bill if it passes.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, 136 communities across the country have similar protections in place.

Comments from Metro Council Members during last night's debate:

Councilman Mike Jameson (co-sponsor): In the time leading up to tonight, in all the discussions leading up to tonight, the sponsors have received one suggested amendment..This bill would effectively add just one sentence to the current procurement policy. It will not add any extra bureaucracy or administration.

Councilman Erica Gilmore (co-sponsor): We want to communicate that we're equality. We want to make sure we're always basing things on performance and talent. We should be a city that welcomes everyone.

Councilman Phil Claiborne: It is not our place to dictate to the private sector what they should do or not do in their places of business.

Councilman CM Matthews: While I am a Christian and do not encourage homosexuality, I do not condone discrimination and we should not stand for discrimination.

Councilman Dominy: This bill would be discrimination against Christians, Muslims, Orthodox Jews and any religion that does not condone homosexuality.

Voting tally:

The "yes" votes: Barry, Steine, Maynard, Matthews, Harrison, Hollin, Jameson, Cole, Jernigan, Page, Moore, LaLonde, Gilmore, Baker, Langster, Evans, Holleman, McGuire, Wilhoite, Coleman, Mitchell.

The "no" votes: Garrett, Tygard, Craddock, Bennett, Forkum, Ryman, Gotto, Burch, Stanley, Claiborne, Crafton, Dominy, Hodge, Toler, Duvall, Todd.

Abstentions: Hunt, Adkins, Foster. (The latter two work for companies that maintain Metro contracts.)

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