Religious leaders in Nashville,
Tennessee are divided on a plan to extend the city's gay protections
In 2009, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean
signed into law a bill that bans employment discrimination based on
sexual orientation and gender identity by the Metro government.
Metro Nashville is the governing body of the City of Nashville and
Davidson County. The pair merged in 1963.
The Metro Council is now considering
requiring companies that do business with the city to adopt a similar
The proposed measure received its
second okay last month. A third and final vote is scheduled for
Tuesday, but Councilman Mike Jameson, a co-sponsor of the
legislation, is expected to ask for a one-meeting delay.
In a letter to the council's leaders,
three Southern Baptist leaders condemned the proposal, The
“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.
The measure “would elevate sexual
orientation and gender identity to the same level as such immutable
characteristics as race, ethnicity and religion, creating a
preferential status not enjoyed by other others.”
In a separate letter, more than 20
clergy members, mostly Methodists, called on the council to approve
"As clergy leaders, we are called
to speak out for and defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ," they
wrote. "This Gospel was, is and will continue to be a message of
a community (or in the words of Scripture, Kingdom) that creates
space for humanity and all of Creation to realize their full
potential. … This Gospel calls us to defend the 'outsiders' and
speak against the status quo that seeks to do harm."