Two members of the Metro Council are expected to file an ordinance Tuesday that would rescind the city's lease agreement with Belmont University for the use of Rose Park because of the university's dismissal of its lesbian soccer coach.
The bill, co-sponsored by Councilmen Jamie Hollin and Mike Jameson, would pull the 2007 agreement that allows Belmont to use Metro-owned Rose Park for an expansion of its athletic facilities. It cites "actions recently taken by Belmont University concerning the termination of the women’s soccer coach, presumably as a result of her sexual orientation" as the reason for rescinding the agreement.
For Belmont to continue to use the Rose Park land under the bill, the university would have to adopt a non-discrimination policy that protects employees based on sexual orientation. Former Belmont women's soccer Lisa Howe was dismissed by the university on Dec. 2, after she revealed to her team that her same-sex partner is expecting a child.
Hollin, whose District 5 includes most of East Nashville west of Gallatin Pike, said the decision to file the bill came from both personal belief and Metro policy.
“It’s not only the personal policy of mine, but it’s also the policy of the Metropolitan government of Nashville-Davidson County that we don’t think you discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation,” Hollin said.
“We’re on the eve of 2011, not 1911,” Hollin added. “If we’re going to have a lease agreement with Belmont, a private institution, then they need to have philosophies in line with that of [Metro].”
Jameson, who like Hollin represents parts of East Nashville, said his District 6 has a “significant gay and lesbian population, of which I’m extremely proud.”
“I received an outcry after Coach Howe’s resignation,” Jameson said. “There were demands that we address it in some fashion. This is what resulted.”
Hollin said Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, who represents the Rose Park area, was briefed on the bill prior to filing.
Mayor Karl Dean said he hadn’t heard about the ordinance when asked for a response. He declined to comment until he reviews the bill. Councilwoman Kristine LaLonde, whose district includes Belmont, declined to comment on Howe's firing last week. LaLonde is a teacher and coordinator of Belmont's Honors leadership studies program.