State effort to overturn Metro's anti-gay bias bill clears hurdle

Monday, May 9, 2011 at 2:03pm

Sen. Thelma Harper called it “mean-spirited,” but state legislation to overturn Nashville’s anti-gay bias ordinance cleared its first hurdle in the Senate Monday.

The Senate State and Local Government Committee voted 6-3 for the bill, which also would forbid any other Tennessee city from enacting any new ordinances banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The committee split on party lines, with Republicans voting yes.

Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, cast her bill as an attempt to help the economy in Tennessee by prohibiting conflicting regulations in cities across the state. Metro Nashville’s ordinance banned discrimination by businesses contracting with the city, requiring vendors to have nondiscrimination policies that include gender identity and sexual orientation.

“For every city to have a different discrimination policy would hurt intrastate commerce,” Beavers said.  “You’re going to have contractors who are going to have to check with each municipality when they do some work with them. A local ordinance ought to have to conform to state law when it comes to discrimination so that we have no confusion and so we can promote business in the state of Tennessee.”

Harper, D-Nashville, said Beavers’ bill was aimed at promoting gay bias, likening it to discrimination against blacks in the segregation era.

“We’ve really come a long ways in trying to make all of us feel equal,” she said. “But I guess I have to say this year I’ve seen more mean-spirited bills than I’ve seen in a long time. This bill is really about people who are different. I think we need to call it what it is. … What we are doing with this legislation, as I see it, [is] we are laying out a mandate that says if they are different, you can treat them that way. And the law will do nothing to protect you.

“It’s a mean-spirited, discriminatory bill for people who dare to be different,” she added. “And this is not something that we should be working on.”

On a voice vote, the committee refused to exclude Nashville from the state legislation. The state House voted 73-24 for the bill on April 25.

48 Comments on this post:

By: revo-lou on 5/9/11 at 3:55

Very painful to watch our "leaders" drag this state into the toilet.

By: opusrb on 5/9/11 at 4:10

I agree with revo-lou. Tennessee is being overtaken by folks wishing to remain somewhere around year 1955. This is 2011 and times and things change. Forward thinking folks ( and BUSINESSES) will turn their back on this state if it continues this trajectory of ignorance and intolerance. Tennessee will reap what it's citizens allow their leaders to sow.

By: David_S on 5/9/11 at 4:38

Before people (like revo and opusrb) start lambasting this law, people need to think about the practical consequences of the regulations metro Nashville has passed. While many people may disagree with what Lipscomb did, the fact is they should have the right to do it, even if they have contracts with metro. They are a religious institution, and should be able to conduct their business as they see fit without metro Nashville writing laws specifically to try and meddle with them.

These laws are not about promoting discrimination. They are about allowing businesses (especially faith-based ones) to run themsleves how they see fit, without fear of retribution from city governments if the city decides they disagree with their beliefs.

By: opusrb on 5/9/11 at 5:04

I believe faith-based organizations were exempt if I have read the bill accurately. The truth is that folks that want to exclude gays from their workforce can do so and still maintain contracts with the state. Being a Christian, straight, father of three, believe this to be overt discrimination, a trait Tennessee holds in it's heritage (KKK) and is fighting so fiercely to adhere to today, by allowing companies (non faith-based) to allow discrimination within their entities with no ramifications. It is simple, if a company wants to be that way, they should not be in business with the government which is for ALL people, gays included, not just white Judao-Christians. The trouble I see with faith these days, is folks forget God loves everyone and if someone thinks God only loves straight, white folks, they are dead wrong.

By: David_S on 5/9/11 at 7:18

Whether faith-based organizations are exempt is a matter purely of speculation. The ordinance also contained this little nugget: "Further, the provisions of this section prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity shall not apply to a group or organization if the application of such provision would significantly burden the expression of the group or organization."

To what organizations or groups would this NOT apply? If I want to discriminate against gays, for no reason other than I don't like them, than this bill would not apply. But obviously, that is not the case. If that is not the case, then whether institutions such as Lipscomb are "religious institutions" is also up to dispute.

By: left on 5/9/11 at 7:48

You talk about rights, but you want to force your beliefs or what you say, your rights on someone else. Do I force you to drink,smoke, go to church, have sex with animals,or objects? Then the government should'nt be telling me to hire a straight, gay, or lesbian if I don't want to. Or telling me I can't bid on government contracts. If I want to pray for you, I have the right whether you like it or not. If you want to live your life against GOD's laws, then you can deal with it later, but don't be forcing your crap on me when I hate it. You don't like what I write, don't read it, but you will and comment on it!

By: rdbjr on 5/9/11 at 10:42

Can people not see the gaping fallacy in the argument that compares forcing people to commit lewd acts against their will to requiring that they not discriminate against perfectly qualified candidates in the workplace? Does anyone's faith actually teach them to marginalize, speak ill of and display such disdain against another person just because he or she feels an attraction toward someone of the same gender? I would think not, but I'm seeing and hearing a disturbing amount of contradictory evidence.

I know it's hard to recognize one's own prejudice and to shed layers of myth that get piled on by generations of misinformation, but the spirit of Metro's ordinance is about treating human beings who have been marginalized for far too long with the respect and dignity that all humans deserve. Yes, everyone has a right to disapprove of another's actions - whether it's body piercings, spanking a child, or holding the hand of someone of the same gender in public. But shouldn't we be able to work alongside anyone just knowing that they are a human being too?

You may pray for me now.

By: GJL on 5/10/11 at 12:27

We are to consider homosexuality (both gays and lesbians) as against God's law and not to be tolerated in any fashion. Yes these are human beings but they are grieviously sinning against God and they have to answer to God for that. God does love each and every one of us but if a person continues to commit the same sin repeatedly after being shown in the Bible where God states that homosexuality is an abomination then that sinner will be destined for hell unless he/she changes his/hers ways and beliefs.

By: momoftwo on 5/10/11 at 1:30

This bill is specifically targeted to keep Metro from hiring companies who employee homosexuals. Metro decided for itself through the normal democratic processes that Metro was not going to give its business to companies who discriminated against gays. Big Brother State Government decided that Metro didn't know what it was doing despite having used the normal democratic processes, and decided to "overrule" Metro through a legislative bill. State Government just took away Metro's right to make decisions on behalf of its citizens. The anti-gay issue aside, what we should really be worried about is Big Brother State Government disliking other decisions made by Metro for Metro- what if Big Brother State Government doesn't like a particular zoning rule? Create a special bill. What if Big Brother State Government doesn't like where local money is going? Create a special bill. This is a blatant in your face don't care cause we got the majority Republican move to enforce through the law their right wing policies anywhere traditional Republican values are threatened. This is just the beginning.

By: Loner on 5/10/11 at 4:59

The "limited government" Tea Party Republicans of Tennessee are at it again; they're attempting to create more fear and loathing while expanding the size, scope and authority of governmental power...exactly the opposite of what they claim to be all about.

The irony here is that TN state lawmakers feel perfectly authorized to expand federal minimum standards of compliance re: the Patriot Act, yet , these same jokers object to local governments expanding minimum standards of compliance in the areas of civil and human rights.

The Tea Baggers are predictable: If a proposed law limits personal freedom and liberty, the Tea Party is in favor of it; if it expands personal liberties and freedom, they are dead set against it.

Apparently Jesus of Nazareth, the Republican Tea Party's, Jewish, man-God idol was also in favor of limiting human freedom, not expanding it. Either that, or these "Christians" are actually heretics.

By: spooky24 on 5/10/11 at 5:10

Seems like everyone made their predictable comments without reading the the bill. After a lawyer talk inspired headache the bill seems to leave areas of non-compliance. The wording is confusing-done on purpose I'm sure. A non issue anyway.

sp

By: fishfry on 5/10/11 at 5:27

Just more unnecessary legislation all politically based and biased against freedom and free thinking. I don't know of anyone who discriminates against gays here. But if a business owner wants to hire or not hire, that should be his prerogative as an American. TOO many laws to do with sex!

By: Kosh III on 5/10/11 at 6:01

To GJL
Not everyone believes in the same violent hateful superman-in-the-sky that you do. Some of us believe "anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the dark" and " love one another."

By: Captain Nemo on 5/10/11 at 6:16

There is more here than just taking away a City’s right to govern itself. On one hand we have the Republican who claim States rights, and on the other hand the same Republicans have step on City rights. Where will it end?

By: Kosh III on 5/10/11 at 6:18

" But if a business owner wants to hire or not hire, that should be his prerogative as an American"
--------------

Does that mean a business owner should be free to fire a black person because he doesn't like blacks, or can fire Catholics because he doesn't approve of cannibalism?

By: Kosh III on 5/10/11 at 6:19

Loner said: "The Tea Baggers are predictable: If a proposed law limits personal freedom and liberty, the Tea Party is in favor of it; if it expands personal liberties and freedom, they are dead set against it."

---You mean of course laws that apply to others, not to themselves. The TPers want everything for themselves and nothing for anyone who is not one of them.

By: budlight on 5/10/11 at 6:31

I can understand the multiple laws for multiple municapalities in the same state and how that would be confusing, costly and time consuming for vendors who want to bid in different cities. One law for the entire state is enough. We have non-discrimination laws already on the books. Just enforce them. And if we start making a law for every different segment of the population, it's too much. I had a contract with the state of TN for 3 years and every 6 months I got a document to attest to NOT hiring illegals and had to sign and return it. I'm sure that if someone "feels" they are discriminated against based on their sexuality, they can get a good lawyer and sue. Oh, they already do that.

By: Captain Nemo on 5/10/11 at 6:34

I agree with bud light all State should have the same law and then there would be no confusion for her.

By: girliegirl on 5/10/11 at 6:36

I'm with David S. Privately held institutions should be able to control the "behavior" of their employees, especially if the behavior goes against the "moral code" of that particular institution. Do you really think that a mosque is going to let regular women (not in burkas) work there? LOL

By: Captain Nemo on 5/10/11 at 6:37

Federal law needs to rule over all States.

By: girliegirl on 5/10/11 at 6:38

And what of those who belong to the Man/Boy Love Group and so on? Yes, pedophiles are among us, and yes, they are within that right so long as they do not "act out that lifestyle" but their mere participation in such a group should be a warning to not hire them for areas where small children might not be so closely supervised.

By: Captain Nemo on 5/10/11 at 6:40

Now how in the hell did girliegirl manage to bring religion into this? Simple; mind drift.

By: Captain Nemo on 5/10/11 at 7:10

Girlie now your hate is dripping by including pedophiles into the equation. The bill does not include them either.

By: WickedTribe on 5/10/11 at 7:49

Republicans wouldn't have any votes if they weren't getting the votes of the mouth-breathing bigots. Because their party has proven to be complete failures in all realms except the social oppression of all things different.

That's why they aren't creating any jobs, just passing one hate-mongering social agenda bill after another. It's all they can do.

By: Ingleweird on 5/10/11 at 7:56

Girliegirl:
DUH, that's what the application checkboxes reading "Are you a pedophile? Circle Yes or No" and "Are you a member of NAMBLA? Circle Yes or No" are for. DUH.

By: Radix on 5/10/11 at 8:15

This bill does not place restrictions on anyone. It PROHIBITS restrictions. The Nashville law is the one that places restrictions on businesses. The criticism that this is government expansion by the Tea Party contingent is laughable. Nice try Loner.

By: Captain Nemo on 5/10/11 at 8:20

girle has been programmed. She can't help it. Well maybe she can't.

By: budlight on 5/10/11 at 8:42

By: Captain Nemo on 5/10/11 at 7:40
Now how in the hell did girliegirl manage to bring religion into this? Simple; mind drift.
new
By: Captain Nemo on 5/10/11 at 8:10
Girlie now your hate is dripping by including pedophiles into the equation. The bill does not include them either.

Muslim is a "business", not a religion and they do discriminate against non-muslims. Last week my friend said 2 muslim women were knocking on her door; she did not go to door. They walked off her porch - ripping down her American flag and throwing it on the ground before they left. NICE GIRLS in berkas!

Also, if we allow every other group to file for non-discrimination, then should the pedophiles get their non-discrimination also? After all, they are only hu-man! So shouldn't they be allowed rights also, Capt. and Kosh? Would you want a pedophile teaching your young children? Or should the schools just open the door to them?

By: girliegirl on 5/10/11 at 9:44

Capt Nemo: "based on sexual orientation or gender identity..." That's how I bridged the topic. - Homer Simpson

By: girliegirl on 5/10/11 at 9:46

Capt Nemo....oh bless your heart....there's no "hate" in my statements, just clear and pertinent observation.

By: girliegirl on 5/10/11 at 9:50

Ingleweird: no boxes that say Man-Boy-Love group (nice try, though) And what if they lie on their app? What then? It took Metro forever to get rid of Roxanne when she ran the 911 Center. Calls went unanswered, shifted to "voicemail" as I personally discovered one night. Metro attorneys told me they feared legal challenges given Roxanne's "lifestyle choice"....so we were stuck with multiple epic failures in the system until finally it was resolved, she was fired, and so on. Too much drama, and all in the name of "protection" as you call it.

By: girliegirl on 5/10/11 at 9:50

Ingleweird: no boxes that say Man-Boy-Love group (nice try, though) And what if they lie on their app? What then? It took Metro forever to get rid of Roxanne when she ran the 911 Center. Calls went unanswered, shifted to "voicemail" as I personally discovered one night. Metro attorneys told me they feared legal challenges given Roxanne's "lifestyle choice"....so we were stuck with multiple epic failures in the system until finally it was resolved, she was fired, and so on. Too much drama, and all in the name of "protection" as you call it.

By: trtay2004 on 5/10/11 at 12:15

Why is the ACLU or someone else not escalating the acts of our State Representatives? I think all businesses should be able to fire all Republicans simply because they are Republicans.... anything wrong with that people?

By: trtay2004 on 5/10/11 at 12:18

Girliegirl - by your logic that one homosexual person wasn't a good employee is just stupid. If we applied that logic to murderers, all heterosexuals should be guildty because heterosexuals reproduced and created all murderers. Homosexuals can't reproduce so you should feel guilty that your sexual orientation is the cause of ALL problems in the world today.

By: global_citizen on 5/10/11 at 12:26

GJL, your choice to believe in Jehovah God is an abomination to my God, the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Your apostasy will not be tolerated. Not only will you burn in the lake of fire for it, but I hope you're also fired for it.

By: global_citizen on 5/10/11 at 12:29

"While many people may disagree with what Lipscomb did"

"Whether faith-based organizations are exempt is a matter purely of speculation."

David_S, let me correct you on both of your errors. One, the school that was the catalyst for this legislation was Belmont, not Lipscomb. Secondly, what this bill does is clearly spelled out in black and white, so no, it's not a matter of pure speculation.

By: TN4th on 5/10/11 at 12:31

So much for all those "conservative" state reps who espouse getting big government out of the business of the local people. As soon as the locals do something they don't like, there go their principles.

By: Ingleweird on 5/10/11 at 1:04

@girliegirl:
I see satire is not one of your stronger suits.

And what's your problem with Roxanne, anyway? After all, you were the one that told her not to wear that dress, to put away her makeup, and to leave the red light off. Now she's out wearing jeans and flannel shirts, trying to do a man's job at the 911 call center. Look what you did, you little jerk!

By: jvh2b on 5/10/11 at 1:29

Can someone please enlighten me as to why we are forced to endure the ramblings of a bunch of brain dead morons that believe in a mystical sky daddy?

Is it because of some book that has been around for a while??

There are older books than the bible but yet we don't seem to follow those around for fear of some fire and brimstone bull.

Why can't everyone be forced to follow the beliefs of the flying one horned pasta monster that some people believe exists?

What a joke...

This legislature reminds me of that scene from Blazing Saddles....

By: global_citizen on 5/10/11 at 1:34

Those of you who say the state or federal law should prevail are on the wrong track. Every city and every state in the nation should come under the laws of the United Nations. That way every law around the world is in harmony. That's the best way to handle these issues.

By: jvh2b on 5/10/11 at 1:39

btw...global...didn't realize we believed in the same monster...lol

By: bnabreaker on 5/10/11 at 9:27

As a former Tennessean who is very proud of their state, it is very infuriating for me to watch my home be dragged backwards by these slack-jawed, sociopathic, paranoid, hateful walking stereotypes.

By: govskeptic on 5/11/11 at 5:52

geese, don't think I'd want to live in in a country set up by the totally
crazy and pretended intelligence of one global_citizen. All laws as
prescribed by the United Nations could certainly make for a wild
and yet sad populace!

By: budlight on 5/11/11 at 6:37

trtay2004 on 5/10/11 at 1:18
Girliegirl - by your logic that one homosexual person wasn't a good employee is just stupid. If we applied that logic to murderers, all heterosexuals should be guildty because heterosexuals reproduced and created all murderers. Homosexuals can't reproduce so you should feel guilty that your sexual orientation is the cause of ALL problems in the world today.

trtay2004 you are off base on this one. Gay couples do bring children into the world and raise them, so everyone is to blame for the problems. And if the Bible were followed, ie, the 10 commandments alone, there would be no crime, hate or bigotry in the world. Love your neighbor as yourself, do not murder, do not commit adultry and so on. Sounds like solid advice for living to me. Peace!

By: fishfry on 5/11/11 at 7:30

Kosh: " Does that mean a business owner should be free to fire a black person because he doesn't like blacks, or can fire Catholics because he doesn't approve of cannibalism?"

++++++++
No, he wouldn't have to fire anyone because he never hired them.

By: rbull on 5/11/11 at 7:02

Senator Thelma Harper needs to take those damn big ass hats she wears and get them out of her eyes where she can see the light of day and get with the program and forget about the days of segregation and quit playing that damn race card like she does all the time. Those days of segregation are gone and forgotten Thelma so wake up and see the light and get those hats out of your eyes.

By: cdatn on 5/11/11 at 9:36

1) No one (person or institution) should have the right to discriminate against anyone based upon their lawful behavior (in this country). Homosexual behavior is legal. No one should be forced to do any behavior they disagree with, but they must permit others to behave any lawful way they see fit. That's what America is all about. You don't like the law, then change it or move. Don't try to subvert the law by passing other laws to bend the it or others to your own will. That's called tyranny. If you don't like the law, then you can lobby to change it. Uganda is doing that today. They're about pass a law that would execute all gay people. See problem solved. I'm sure God is smiling... (if your God is Satan). How many homosexuals does God have to make before we stop wondering if he approves of them. Gays don't want anything to do with you. They just want to live their lives freely, happily, and peacefully - like you.

2) Anyone who believes that God is displeased by homosexuality does not know how to read the Bible, nor do they know the Love of God. Unless you are a Jew living 2,500 years ago, homosexuality is not against "God's Law." Homosexuality was banned by Jewish law in the Hebrew Testament - which does not apply to anyone else. Ever. If you are a Christian, you believe that Christ fulfilled the law - and died for sins. End of story.

Finally, Christians are called to Love their neighbors. Period. Judge your own actions, pray for one another, and accept those with whom you disagree. You'll be amazed at how liberating the Gospel is when you finally realize it is not your job to judge those around you.

By: onewayfarer on 5/13/11 at 5:01

With all the problems we face in this state, it's appalling that our law makers choose to pander to the lowest rung of our state for purely political reasons. These people have no backbone or shame at all. Blaming teachers' organizations for the low grade that our state has, when ever since I've lived in this state(over 40 years), we've been at or near the bottom of the country in scores and spending on schools.I attended jr. high in TYn, but went to a private school out of state, just to get aquality education. You definitely can't get something for nothing in this life, but the Rep. keep trying with our education system. Try tackling the woeful education system instead of trying to perpetuate discrimination. While I'm ranting, let me say that I really don't appreciate you allowing for the possibility of gunfights around my wife and children at resturants. What a bunch of cowardly sycophants!