Conservatives are employing a two-pronged strategy to defeat a pending Metro Council bill that would require companies that contract with Metro to adopt nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity.
One mechanism will rely on new state legislation; the other, on council procedure.
State Rep. Glen Casada, a Republican from Franklin, told The City Paper he’s in the process of drafting legislation that would prevent local municipalities from creating laws that force businesses to adhere to certain policies, including nondiscrimination measures. He said he hopes the legislation is drafted by next week.
“It’s up to the local business to decide what they will and will not do,” Casada said of his soon-to-be-filed bill. “The local government won’t be able to implement their morality on our local businesses.”
Chris Sanders, president of the Tennessee Equality Project, expressed concern over Casada's effort.
"We thought we were going to have an era of less government, and this goes directly against local control," Sanders said.
Casada and Jim Gotto, who currently serves a dual role as Metro councilman and state representative representing parts of Donelson, met with business leaders and Christian conservatives Wednesday to discuss their concerns with a city bill that would require companies that do business with Nashville city government to adopt Metro’s nondiscrimination policy.
The filing of the council bill, sponsored by council members Mike Jameson and Jamie Hollin, followed the controversial dismissal of Belmont University women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe in December, after she revealed to her team that she and her same-sex partner are expecting a child.
“I’m really concerned that Nashville — and, for that matter, various cities across the state — will start implementing what they think is right and wrong, and require businesses to perform certain things before they can do business in any given town or city,” Casada said.
Earlier Wednesday, Gotto told The City Paper he or some other council member plans to pull the pending council bill on the first of three votes Jan. 18 to have a rare vote on first reading.
The idea would be to force council members to weigh in on the controversial matter in an attempt to defeat the legislation. Normally, under the council’s procedures, all bills on first reading pass without discussion.