Committee adopts legislation to nullify Metro's anti-bias bill

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 12:31pm

Over the protests of lawmakers from Nashville, the Republican-run state House Commerce Committee adopted legislation Tuesday to nullify the city’s new antidiscrimination ordinance protecting gays.

Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, tried to kill the bill by amending it to exclude Nashville. But the committee voted 21-7 to table her proposal, then approved the bill on a voice vote.

The legislation would bar all Tennessee cities from enacting their own policies against gay, lesbian and transgender discrimination. The bill’s supporters said they want to prevent burdensome and confusing new business regulations from popping up all over the state.

“I could see where — and I’ll take hypotheticals — one town says you got to hire a Baptist that has two children, the other town says you got to have someone that has red hair,” Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove, told the committee. “I could see just a whole plethora of convoluted and ill-advised laws in each town to appease their particular constituency group, and it would just be chaos to try to do business in those towns.”

Gilmore said Casada’s real motive is to perpetuate discrimination against gays in the workplace. The Metro ordinance, signed into law on Friday by Mayor Karl Dean, extends protections against workplace discrimination to gays, lesbians and transgender people working at businesses contracting with the city government. Specifically, the law requires those vendors doing business with Metro have in their nondiscrimination policies references to sexual orientation and gender identity.

“This legislation is really trying to make a business argument to defend discrimination,” Gilmore said. “I want Nashville to be known as a city of equal opportunity based on talent, performance and behavior when it comes to taxpayer-funded jobs. Ninety-four percent of Fortune 100 companies already have similar policies. When you look across the United States, 181 cities and counties have this antidiscrimination policy, and there has not been chaos in those cities. Over one half of the states in the United States have this policy.”

Gilmore’s daughter, the Metro Council member Erica Gilmore, was one sponsor of the antidiscrimination ordinance, and she defended the law in her own testimony before the committee.

“This is the first time we’ve heard that different local standards are a burden to business, and we are confused as to why this is coming up now,” she said.

14 Comments on this post:

By: spooky24 on 4/12/11 at 11:00

"the law requires those vendors doing business with Metro have in their nondiscrimination policies references to sexual orientation and gender identity"

If the State Supreme Court views this as constitutional that would end any debate I have. Requiring these policies, while avoiding any others, I just can't see as constitutional.


By: revo-lou on 4/12/11 at 11:16

{“I could see where — and I’ll take hypotheticals — one town says you got to hire a Baptist that has two children, the other town says you got to have someone that has red hair,” Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove, told the committee. “I could see just a whole plethora of convoluted and ill-advised laws in each town to appease their particular constituency group, and it would just be chaos to try to do business in those towns.”}

If the people that elected this nut are not embarrassed to their core, then this is a very sad state of affairs. I know that some states may not progress very fast, but our state is actually going backwards.

By: Antisocialite on 4/12/11 at 2:25

Just so you know spooky24, the bill to nullify the city’s new antidiscrimination ordinance protecting gays is explicitly prohibited by the Tennessee Constitution.


The General Assembly shall have no power to pass a special, local or private act having the effect of removing the incumbent from any municipal or county office or abridging the term or altering the salary prior to the end of the term for which such public officer was selected, and any act of the General Assembly private or local in form or effect applicable to a particular county or municipality either in its governmental or its proprietary capacity shall be void and of no effect unless the act by its terms either requires the approval by a two-thirds vote of the local legislative body of the municipality or county, or requires approval in an election by a majority of those voting in said election in the municipality or county affected.

With all of their lip-service about upholding the constitution don't you think they should actually read it?

By: JeffF on 4/12/11 at 3:28

Tennessee is my state. Nashville belongs to other people.

By: pswindle on 4/12/11 at 3:56

Words fail me at the stupidity of the House and Senate in TN. Our state can be destroyed in four years. Can TN recall their House and Senate representatives? It may sometning to look into. We have a lot of nuts up there pretending to run the government, but all that they are interested in is social issues.

By: JeffF on 4/12/11 at 5:58

Why recall the representatives of other people? Seems to me they are doing everything they promised to do.

Why did Nashville wait until the Republicans took over to start caring about the LGBTBINAMBLA community? Nashville's leadership should be trying to create jobs instead of granting extra rights.

By: fishfry on 4/13/11 at 6:30

The state has a constitution and it should be read before any of these bills are written up - no, they should read it before they write up ANY bills at all! This would end much of the confusion. (But of course, perhaps the confusion is what politicians really want.) If they have the time to think up all the new taxes and ordinances they come up with -- then they have the time to read aloud the state constitution before going forward with anything else. That is what it was written for in the first place. Same goes for Washington, D.C. Evidently these folks just do NOT have enough to do!

By: Moonglow1 on 4/13/11 at 6:35

Moonglow1: if 94 percent of Fortune 100 companies have already adopted this policy what is TN's issue? It is simply an ideological issue. Our TN legislators & Beth Harwell are waging an ideological war against the democratic values of all people. And they are doing so illegally. What can we do to recall them? Also since when are Baptists discriminated against in TN? In addition to Sheila Butts of Aqua Net fame (used example to disprove climate change), Mae Beavers with her focus on long form birth certificates, we now have Glen Casada to add to the list (a Baptist with 2 kids). The democratic party in this state should be outraged & should push for a recall of these theo-nuts starting with its leader who voted to increase pay for his commissioners when everyone else is hurting. And the legislature does not care that you are hurting. So will top companies really want to locate here? Those that prefer to increase profits through exploitation of an under educated & cheap non unionized labor force might. Perhaps Baptist-owned companies may prefer TN. So in the end the Vanderbilt educated Ph. D. Harwell caved in to the theo-nuts. Well Green Hills-recall her. She no longer represents the values of her constituents.

By: PhiDelt496 on 4/13/11 at 7:01

Ahhh yes, let the minority rule! The vast majority of Tennessee voters showed that they want this from their government. No excuses about Haslam being independently wealthy, because the McWherter (sp?) family is not exactly broke. I realize that they dont have Pilot money, but they have money. This is what the people want. If you look at the numbers from the election, Republicans won hands down across the board. Heck even Doug Jackson (talk about family money) got beat. A Jackson losing an election in Dickson County is like a Kennedy losing an election in MA.

Moonglow, if 94% of Fortune 100 companies already have this policy and probably 75-80% of all companies do too, why does government need to pass it? What is the point?

Antisocialite, I have a feeling that there are more than a couple of Lawyers on Capitol Hill, and they have probably given the opinion on any possible legal challenges before the bill is presented. If there are major legal issues, the legislature is aware, that doesnt mean that they will heed the advice, but they are aware.

By: Captain Nemo on 4/13/11 at 8:50

This bill is for show only. It has nothing to do with reality, but it does please the fringe

By: jvh2b on 4/13/11 at 9:13

I'd say that's pretty clear Nemo based on the nutjobs that have posted here.

One that thinks gays are all child molesters.

One that thinks b/c people voted these clowns into office that they are somehow still satisfied with their performance, despite clear evidence otherwise (I mean look at WI).

One that disavows Nashville b/c it's kinda liberal.

One that can have to TN constitution in front of him in black and white and still somehow manage to think this law stands a snowballs change in hell of surviving any legal challenge (forgetting apparently that most GLBT victories come from the courts..(while I won't say Justice is is halfway there lol))

There is a hole somewhere missing it's moron's.

By: Antisocialite on 4/13/11 at 9:33

I'm going to bring this over from yesterday's post since I didn't have time to respond then.

PhiDelt496 said:

My question is this: Why is it the government's responsibility to legislate morality? Why do we need them to step in and force one person's viewpoint on another? What group needs protection next?

I want my tax dollars to go to the contractor who can do the best work for the lowest price. I want companies to be able to stand on their beliefs and maintain their integrity, no matter how much I agree/disagree with their beliefs. I dont think that it is the government's place to dictate that. I see court challanges coming either way this bill goes. If metro succeeds in keeping their law, a company without the anti-discrimination clause could be the low bidder and then sue because they werent awarded the contract. The lawsuit will be between Metro and State governments.

I dont see this as an issue of exceeding federal law, I see it as an issue of government trying to regulate business. The only solution for this problem is for the federal government to pass the anti-discrimination law at that level. Then all other arguments are moot.

I really dont like how if I take a stance different from what the GLBT leadership wants, I am anti-GLBT. I am NOT! And most of the GLBT that I know dont really care about this, they dont want special protections. They just want to be left alone and allowed to live their lifes how they see fit. I try to respect their wishes. But they are mostly conservitives anyway so they dont count. Right, Antisocialite?

First of all, I'm completely tired of this disingenuous 'government shouldn't legislate morality,' argument. Not only because it usually comes out of the mouths of the very same people who seek to base our laws strictly on the 'morality' of the Bible, but because even on it's face it is completely absurd. The government legislates morality ALL THE TIME. Murder, rape, assault, theft, and a whole lot more of our criminal code could be rightly called a normative moral code. Unless you are a moral relativist that is, but in that case why have a criminal code at all?

You say very explicitly "I want companies to be able to stand on their beliefs and maintain their integrity, no matter how much I agree/disagree with their beliefs." But I wonder if you would say that if they were using slave and child labor in sweatshop conditions... oh wait your shirt was probably already made in China. Sorry for the hyperbole, but the last part of that sentence just invites it, "no matter how much," really?!? How about if their belief was that white sorority girls are inherently dumb and therefore have no place in business... still want those guys getting a lucrative city contract over a more accepting firm?

We aren't in total disagreement though, your point about the only solution coming at a federal level is salient. I believe that it will happen before too much longer, but this is obviously pure speculation. I also understand your point about certain GLBT supporters being quick to label someone as anti-gay. I come down on the 'wrong' side of many hate crime legislation debates, and have experienced this first hand. Not that I can blame them too much though, the vast majority of dissenting arguments they hear are constructed from bias and misinformation rather than any type of well-reasoned, educated perspective.

By: PhiDelt496 on 4/13/11 at 11:29

I dont see murder, rape, assault, or theft as moral issues, I see them as public safety issues. And I agree that it is a double edged sword and do not see the reasoning behind allowing the teaching of creationism in public school except in a anthropoligical discussion. Whether you like it or not, or believe it or not, it is impossible to properly teach the founding of America (or the Civil War) without mention of religion. Chritianity is at the core of the American culture and to think that you can study American History, or Culture, or even Law without mention of Judeo-Christian teachings is naive. But it has NO place in the Science classroom whatsoever so that is why I dont support "creationism" in schools.

Exploitation is completely different from discrimination. If a company wants to make some stupid policy's such as not hiring GLBT, sorority girls, or people with red hair, they should be able to. It is extremely difficult to find GOOD workers and keep them, anything arbitrary that a company does to limit the candidate pool is extremely foolish. THAT is why most companies have adopted GLBT antidiscrimination policies voluntarily. I simply dont think that it is the govenments place to force people who make poor personnel decisions to make better ones. Plus, the government contracts shouldnt be that lucrative in the first place...but that is a different argument.

You have to love it when respectful debate crosses between articles!

As far as the recall topic, I stand by Lewis Black's famous joke: "The Democratic party is the party of no ideas...the Republican party is the party of bad Ideas" Now tell me who to vote for!

By: PhiDelt496 on 4/13/11 at 12:04

I also want to say that the "burdensome for business" arguement is BS. That doesnt change my stance on the State's Bill, but I do think that the people behind this bill need to find another arguement in support.