Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday
approved a plan to extend the city's gay protections to contractors.
In 2009, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean
signed into law a bill that bans employment discrimination based on
sexual orientation and gender identity (transgender protections) by the Metro government.
Metro Nashville is the governing body of the City of Nashville and
Davidson County. The pair merged in 1963.
With a narrow 21 to 15 vote, the
40-member council decided that companies that do business with the
city must adopt a similar nondiscrimination policy, joining more than
100 communities across the nation.
Chris Sanders of the gay rights group
Tennessee Equality Project told the Tennessean: “The message
it sends is that if you're talented and willing to work, you're
At an earlier meeting, Councilman Mike
Jameson, a co-sponsor of the legislation, was called out of order
when he attempted to explain the main grievance, as he saw it, of the
bill's opponents – that being gay is a choice.
“That crux is the belief that
homosexuality is a choice,” Jameson told the council. “And I
submit to you and ask for you to consider in explicit terms over the
next two weeks whether or not that is in fact the case. Explore that
issue with your friends, with your neighbors, with your constituents
who are of the gay and lesbian community and ask them. Did they wake
up one morning and decide to be gay. I would submit to you that the
answer is no. That is not a choice.”
In a letter to the council's leaders,
three Southern Baptist leaders condemned the measure.
“It is clear that imposing this
ordinance could lead to disastrous moral and ethical conflicts
including trampling on the conscience protections of many residents
of the Metro area,” wrote Richard Land, president of the Southern
Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Randy
Davis, executive director and treasurer of the Tennessee Baptist
Convention, and Robert B. Sumrall Jr., executive director of the
Nashville Baptist Association.
But another 20 clergy members, mostly
Methodists, had called on the council to approve the measure, saying
that the “Gospel calls us to defend the 'outsiders' and speak
against the status quo that seeks to do harm.”