Non-Discrimination Bill Passes 2nd Reading At Metro Council - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Non-Discrimination Bill Passes 2nd Reading At Metro Council

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by Chris Cannon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A controversial non-discrimination bill passed on a second reading at Metro Council Tuesday night.

The council voted 21 to 16 in favor of the bill that would add two new classes to the procurement code Metro contractors already follow. These companies would not be able to discriminate on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation if it passes.

It was amended to exclude businesses with less than 15 employees, and religious institutions.

"I think it shows a signal to all the world no matter what you are, who you are, we don't discriminate against you, period. That's the kind of city I want to live in," said bill co-sponsor Jamie Hollin.

"I think it shows Nashville is a place for all," according to bill co-sponsor Erica Gilmore.

In 2009, Metro Council voted to add those two classes to the city's anti-discrimination policy.  Late last year, council members Hollin, Jameson and Gilmore sponsored a bill that would require anyone doing business with Metro to follow the same policy as the city follows.

Last Friday, Mayor Karl Dean threw his support behind the bill.
Debate Heats Up Over Metro Non-Discrimination Bill

"I think as a city we are opposed to discrimination.  We want people to be treated fair.  We want people to be treated the same under the law.  And I said if that this particular ordinance passes, I would sign it," said Mayor Dean.

However, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce has said they have some serious issues with the proposed bill, and asked council members to defer the bill until those issues could be worked out.

Several council members stood up and explained why they would vote against this bill.

"There is no freedom or justification in asking Christian, or religious individuals, groups or organizations who might want to engage in Metro Government in any official manner to accept a way of life that they don't agree with because it's condoned by Metro Government," Councilman Phil Claiborne said.

Other council members said this non-discrimination bill actually discriminates against businesses.

"That's what this bill does, it discriminates against Christians business people, Muslim business people, Orthodox Jews because of their beliefs and their faith," according to Councilman Jim Hodge.

Councilman Rip Ryman tried to defer the vote on this bill until June. He felt state legislation introduced by Williamson County Representative Glen Casada may very well make this type of bill illegal. The deferral motion was voted down.

The bill now goes for a third and final reading at council.

Email: ccannon@newschannel5.com

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