Council members file nondiscrimination ordinance

Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 12:36pm

It would become unlawful for Metro to discriminate against someone based on his or her gender identity or sexual orientation if a new nondiscrimination ordinance filed with the Council office Thursday is enacted.

The ordinance will be on the July 21 Metro Council agenda. The primary sponsors are at-large Council members Megan Barry, who spearheaded the update to the nondiscrimination ordinance, along with Tim Garrett, Ronnie Steine and Jerry Maynard.

Council has pursued an ordinance to protect Metro workers based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2003, however, a similar effort failed.

“I’m an optimist,” Steine said. “I just believe the government and the government work place ought to be an environment where individuals are treated with respect and treated equally.”

Metro’s current nondiscrimination ordinance makes it unlawful to fail or refuse to hire, promote, fire or discriminate against an individual based on race, religion, creed, gender, national origin, color, age or disability. Gender identity and sexual orientation would simply be added to the ordinance.

District 4 Councilman Michael Craddock said the better route to take to curb discrimination would be to mandate diversity sensitivity training for Metro workers. In 2008 Mayor Karl Dean signed an executive order mandating such training, but Craddock said only about a third of Metro workers have taken advantage of it so far.

Steine countered by saying that the nondiscrimination ordinance was not mutually exclusive with sensitivity training and that both should be embraced.

There was talk that Barry’s ordinance would expand beyond Metro and make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity unlawful throughout Davidson County. Steine said it was appropriate for Metro to be the “example,” but said it should lead by example first.

In 2007, Keith Durbin became the first openly gay elected official in the history of Tennessee when he became the District 18 Metro Council representative. Durbin resigned his position in January to become the chief information officer for Mayor Karl Dean.

7 Comments on this post:

By: idgaf on 7/9/09 at 3:44

Same old cast of characters (with one new one)

I don't want to walk into a city office and see some guy dressed up as a woman.

By: dogmrb on 7/9/09 at 7:40

Except yourself ;)

By: frodo on 7/10/09 at 6:07

Okay, so I'm thinkin' this doesn't go far enough. What about making it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of identity, period. Today I want to be Napoleon, even though I'm not. Tomorrow, I want to be Karl Dean, and I get his haircut. And maybe I am absolutely convinced of it...DON'T TRY TO TELL ME I AM NOT! Next week, I think I'm a dog (every dog should have his or her day...and, by the way, my dog should be allowed to come to work thinking she is me).

A stint as The Three Pigs could be just around the corner...who's to say I am only one person/pig. And is there any difference between a person and a pig...or a mayor and a fig? Now don't get all bigoted and close-minded and march me out the door!

I think I should get to be all of that and more. So don't reign your identiphobia down upon me and say I can't. If certain men can be protected for thinking their aunts and refusing to wear pants, then don't disicriminate against me by singling out your identity crisis of choice. A guy shouldn't be constrained to just be called "Joyce."

By: frankbrown on 7/10/09 at 6:46

I wonder if Abraham Lincoln really understood what he had brought upon this populace when he said "All men are created equal"

By: real_frank_brown on 7/10/09 at 10:06

the above comment is from a person who admits he is not frank brown.

By: frodo on 7/11/09 at 11:34

Frank, er, having an identity crisis there, buddy? I'm thinking my proposed expanded legislation (see above) could help you get a Metro job and keep it forever.

By: localboy on 7/14/09 at 8:29

Proof would be needed to establish any case of discrimination - existing laws should be sufficient - another regulation on the books is like a band-aid across a wound, legislators give the illusion that they are doing something constructive rather than actually doing their jobs...