Metro Council Considers Special Protections for Sexual Orientation

On September 15th, The Nashville Metro Council passed Ordinance No. BL2009-502, 24-15. Thanks to those who contacted your council member to oppose this legislation.




Metropolitian Council Meeting
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
  6:30 p.m. Council Chamber

The vote on Second Reading of this  ordinance [Ordinance No. BL2009-502] was on August 18, when it  passed 23-16The third and final reading an vote will take place on September 15th.

If at all possible, please plan to come early and attend this meeting. Whether or not you can come, you can pray!

Metropolitan Courthouse
One Public Square, Suite 204

Regular meetings are televised and broadcast live on the Government Access Channel, Comcast Cable Channel 3.

You can click HERE for all council members.
You can click HERE to see a council district map.
You can click
HERE for a printable sheet to pass out to others.

You can 'copy and paste' the message below, or write your own:
Please oppose Ordinance 2009-502 on September 15th.  The ordinance itself is discriminatory in protecting only some people from discriminatory hiring practices and not others.  If the concern is to prohibit discriminatory hiring practices then simply vote in favor of a policy requiring employment decisions to be based on the merits and fitness of a person for the job in question. This would protect all employees and job applicants and not just those who have a political voice strong enough to get their concerns heard.


A LITTLE BACKGROUND:  Many of you were involved in a similar effort a number of years ago to defeat an ordinance giving special rights to homosexuals.  It started out as an ordinance that would apply to employers county wide.  When that ran into resistance, it was narrowed to apply only to metro.  It came down to a tie vote with then Vice-Mayor Howard Gentry breaking the tie by voting no.

Based on that huge battle and the fact that in a conservative community like Nashville, the issue was won by a single vote, at the next election cycle, voters elected the most conservative Council in the history of Davidson County -- the make up of which would overwhelmingly assure defeat if such a resolution was brought back. 

At the most recent election there was not a specific issue to take to the voters, so the council makeup has changed and we really don't know what the outcome of this effort might be.

Chris Sanders, President,
Tennessee Equality Project:
In the email to supporters, Sanders said “we know from the experience of working on the Shelby County non-discrimination resolution that we are in for a fight....We will have to out-email, out-call, and out-rally them. That’s why we’re organizing in as many council districts as we can. We have already recruited many district captains for the effort.”

Nashville non-discrimination ordinance may be proposed in July

New gay rights push targets Metro Nashville policies

"We think that is the target that makes sense," said Chris Sanders, chairman of the Tennessee Equality Project. "We believe everybody in Nashville deserves a nondiscrimination policy, but starting with Metro makes sense."

(Obviously the proponents realize that they began with an ordinance too broad in 2003. The present proposal would not apply to private employment practices now, though the proposed ordinance will be added to the section of the Code that includes employment practices by private employers, clearly opening the way to work toward expansion at a later date.)

Normally, on 'first reading' bills are voted on as a group. Councilman Robert Duvall (District 33) pulled the bill off the list in attempt to have it defeated.


Metro is playing catch-up, say supporters of gay protections


Private sector already has anti-discrimination rules

The argument that protecting Metro government's gay employees would force the private sector to follow suit is all backward, supporters of a new anti-discrimination measure say. Around the country, 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies' anti-discrimination policies include sexual orientation or gender identity. Read more here

NOTE: The article above was in Sunday's Tennessean, July 26.  The private sector is free to make these decisions, can change them if there is a problem.  That is very different from having a law imposed upon a employer forcing them to put these provisions in place.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2009-502, was filed by Councilwoman Megan Barry, co-sponsored by Tim Garrett,Ronnie Steine,Jerry Maynard, Mike Jameson,Sean McGuire,Buddy Baker,Erik Cole,Anna Page,and Sandra Moore must have three readings,  The expected schedule : first reading was Tuesday, July 21. The second reading is expected to be August 6 (this is when it will receive a full debate), and the third and final reading should be on August 18. So the window of opportunity to communicate your position with the Council is limited.

Present statues states:  It is an unlawful practice for an employeer to fail or refuse to hire, or to discharge, any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against an individual with respect to compensation, terms or conditions or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, national origin, disability or sex.

Notice that except for 'religion', each of the characteristics in the present law are immutable (unchangable.)

The proposed ordinance would make it "unlawful for the metropolitan government to fail or refuse to hire or promote, or to discharge any individual, because of such individual's race, religion, creed, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, color, age, and/or disability."

You will notice that immutable characteristics (race, gender, national origin, age, disability) are combined with characteristics that can change (religion, creed, gender identity, sexual orientation). 

"Gender identity' is a disorder in which a male or female feels a strong identification with the opposite sex. How would an employer even know this about a person? If this becomes a 'protected class', employers may be required to defer to the perceived or determined sex of each individual without regard to their biological reality. Another problem presented is how would an employer implement this new policy with appropriate consideration for the concerns of those who are not confused about their own sex.  All employees possess some privacy rights, even within their workplace.

Regarding 'sexual orientation', e
ven the American Psychological Association is now 'de-emphasizing the biological argument'. See:
APA's New position on Homosexuality.There are too many people who have successfully left the homosexual life style to deny that these changes are possible.

In either case, if an employer fired an incompetent employee or chose not to promote him or her with no idea about the person's private life, it would be a lawsuit waiting to happen.

There is no evidence that there is rampant 'sexual orientation' or 'gender identity' discrimination. In 2006, the latest statistics we could find, there were only five such complaints out of about 150 submitted to the Human Relations Commission.

If this ordinance passes, what will be the next step?  These 'special, protected rights' could easily be expanded to include benefits, or other requirements, in addition to being required in the private sector.  Time is SHORT.  You will want to make the appropriate contacts NOW.