Bill would pull agreement with Belmont over coach's dismissal

Monday, December 13, 2010 at 12:52pm

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. 

17 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 12/13/10 at 12:43

Appears the race is on for Council members to get the
most publicity and political favor of the LGBT Agenda
and supporters. Does this threat come after Belmont
has already spent all the money/improvements they had
promised on this long neglected delapidated facility?

By: District18Voter on 12/13/10 at 1:15

Where is the Councilmember for District 18 stand on this? Has she shown any leadership on this issue?

By: garyallanstewart on 12/13/10 at 1:26

As we all know, the District 18 Council member is also an employee of Belmont University. When she ran for this position, there was much concern about her ability to represent her Council District in an impartial manner and NOT be a minion of Belmont. It is now time to see her take a stand and show that she is a Leader and will not be Belmont's puppet.

By: global_citizen on 12/13/10 at 2:46

gary, I think we've already seen Ms. LaLonde's response, and that is to have no response. At all. And sadly, it's the disappointing lack of response that many of us feared and predicted when she was running.

By: District18Voter on 12/13/10 at 3:09

Maybe a recall election is in order? If she cannot attend to her council duties, then get rid of her and elect someone without ties to Belmont.

By: breathofdeath on 12/13/10 at 4:45

Let's see: 1- sexual orientation is not a protected class under the law; 2- Metro's non-discrimination ordinance regarding sexual orientation applies to Metro only, not those who do business with the city or to the county at large, and even if it did apply outside Metro government a religious exemption would have to be in place for the bill to pass constitutional muster; 3- under the proposed bill Belmont's religious beliefs would be compromised if forced to enact a non-discrimination based on sexual orientation policy to continue using Rose Park; 4- it sounds like the bill specifically names the recent incident involving the soccer coach as the reason for canceling the agreement. I can't wait to read Jon Cooper's analysis of this ordinance. While I understand and sympathize with the sentiment behind the proposal I don't believe Metro should get away with punishing Belmont for an act that violates no federal, state, or local laws. The rule of law, not emotion nor righteous indignation, should be the controlling factor here.

By: JeffF on 12/13/10 at 5:13

I am amazed by the number of expensive losing lawsuits Metro council members get us into.

By: jasonpence29 on 12/13/10 at 5:49

You mis politics with religion. welp, this is what ya get. I agree, Metro Says you can't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. So, Belmont, If you want to use the park, get rid of your bigoted policy!
I'm so Happy to see this! FINALLY, some folks taking a stand.
It's not 1911 is EXACTLY Correct! NO Hate.

By: jasonpence29 on 12/13/10 at 5:49

That would be MIX*

By: JeffF on 12/13/10 at 7:48

Yeah, get out of park. Will you take a check for all that money Nashville will owe you for the per the contract and for our tort damages? Funny how the the LGBT people will consider this a victory while the rest of us will be paying millions to Belmont.

By: District18Voter on 12/13/10 at 8:19

Does the council lady who represents the district and so happens to be employed by Belmont as a professor have tenure at Belmont?

By: RTungsten on 12/14/10 at 12:31

Sure, let's keep the park on the Metro books rather than dump it off to Belmont. Great idea. God forbid they make an investment, clean up the area and increase property values (which increases the taxes collected by the city).

By: Wild Bill on 12/14/10 at 8:31

This bill is going no where. First you have to prove that Belmont did something wrong. But due to the confidentiality agreement signed by Belmont and Ms Howe (most likely at Ms Howe's insistence) no one can talk.

You would think that these two jack leg council members would think this thing through but there is no end when the curtain of gay theatrics goes up.

Remember what Abby Rubenfeld said, "Its done".

By: Alphadog7 on 12/14/10 at 9:24

It can't be a good idea for Metro Council to pick a fight with a major University in the city.

The bill is ridiculous and based on speculation (no one knows the full details of what happened). Just political pandering from two usually outstanding councilmen. It won't happen.

For Councilmen to force their values on a religious institution would show a serious lack of tolerance and diversity. Are they going to start pressuring churches next?

By: Nitzche on 12/14/10 at 11:52

A Lesbian who outs herself resigns, now 2 -Non-factor councilmen want to rescind a binding contract based on a PRESUMPTION of why she resigned? I know Jamison is married, Hollin?? They should check with Metro legal before running off half "cocked"!

By: global_citizen on 12/14/10 at 1:57

WildBill - You're not very well experienced at matters such as legal disputes, are you? Why would Ms. Howe insist on a confidentiality agreement? It's Belmont that stands to lose face over the controversy, so if anyone insisted on a confidentiality agreement, it was Belmont.

By: Wild Bill on 12/14/10 at 2:20

global - none of us know why Ms Howe left Belmont. But for the sake of a case study lets consider the possibilities.

Ms Howe is confronted with stealing university property, misuse of team funds, you pick the offense other than anything to do with her orientation or her partner's baby. She sees the writing on the wall gets an attorney (enter Abby Rubenfeld) and in the meantime she tells her team that her partner is having a baby. A week later, with out admitting guilt and with a confidentiality agreement in hand, she agrees to resign from her job and the university is glad its over.

Then because she is embarrassed for her wrong doing, she insinuates to the soccer team that the reason for her departure is because she told the team about her partner and the baby.

Then the school newspaper picks up the story from the soccer team as told to them by MS Howe. The university is now bound by the confidentiality agreement and cannot correct the story. Then people like yourself who cannot or will not critically think lap up what you want to believe.

Lets see if your global broad mindedness can wrap around that.