The Metro Council indefinitely deferred Tuesday night a bill that would rescind Metro’s agreement with Belmont University concerning the use of Rose Park.
The move came at the request of Metro Councilman Mike Jameson, who along with fellow East Nashville Councilman Jamie Hollin, sponsored the ordinance in light of the school’s controversial recent dismissal of gay women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe. Metro should contract with institutions that share the same nondiscrimination policy, sponsors had said in proposing the bill.
Speaking before the council, Jameson cited conversations with colleagues who were worried about the “collateral damage” attached to the ordinance, presumably referring to the loss of $7 million in park renovations that Belmont plans to pursue.
Jameson also suggested the proposal has perhaps “already had its desired effect,” alluding to Mayor Karl Dean’s directive last week to apply Metro’s nondiscrimination policy to the city’s autonomous board and authorities.
Jameson said the indefinite deferral request was made “to give Belmont what I think is the opportunity here and encouragement to eventually do the right thing.
“They’re obviously exploring that with great endeavor,” he added. “I think the trick at this point is to prevent this from happening again.”
With that, Jameson cited his companion bill — also co-sponsored by Hollin — that would require all third-party vendors that contract with Metro to have nondiscrimination polices that cover sexual orientation and gender identity.
“While private entities could unfortunately continue to discriminate, if those entities elect the privilege of doing business with Metro, we would insist upon them to comply by our policies and procedures,” Jameson said.
Critics of Jameson’s new bill, set for the first of three votes in January, have said Metro should not interfere with private entities.
“We already do that,” Jameson said, directing the comment to those critics. “Every entity that Metro contracts with, we set out in extreme specificity what to do, where to do it, when to do it, how to do it. And in the vast majority of those contracts, we specify that they are to comply with our discrimination policies.”