State House votes to nullify Metro's anti-gay bias legislation

Monday, April 25, 2011 at 9:48pm

After a testy debate in which Democrats accused Republicans of homophobia, the state House voted overwhelmingly Monday night to nullify Nashville’s new anti-gay bias ordinance and to ban any such laws in the future in any other Tennessee city.

The bill’s supporters insisted it’s a pro-jobs initiative — and not a heavy-handed attempt to stifle gay rights. They argued it’s an unfair burden on businesses to require those contracting with the city to agree not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove, said he also brought his bill because he is upset that the Metro Council acted in response to the controversy over lesbian soccer coach Lisa Howe’s exit from Belmont University.

“That is very hard-hearted and callous to tell businessmen they cannot do business with the city of Nashville,” Casada told the House, which voted 73-24 for his bill. “This bill is about creating jobs and making things homogeneous across the state. This flippant attitude of ‘Well, you comply with my morality or you won’t do business with my city’ — that’s the reason I’m bringing this bill.”

Nashville Democratic Reps. Brenda Gilmore, Mike Turner, Mike Stewart and Sherry Jones all spoke out against the bill. They said it tramples on Nashville’s right to govern itself. Jones told Casada his bill tells cities that “basically they should discriminate against people.”

“I can tell you that the mayor and the council can handle their own business,” Jones said. “People don’t have to bid on Metro contracts if they don’t want to do that. That’s certainly their choice. This has nothing to do with commerce across the state. Let’s not each of us nitpick at cities and the way they want to do things.”

Rep. Jeanne Richardson, D-Memphis, called the bill “anti-gay” and castigated Casada and the Republicans as deceitful for pretending it is about jobs.

“Discrimination against gay people about jobs is wrong. I personally strongly feel it’s wrong. … We want to say in our state to the gay community all over this state that it’s OK to discriminate on sexual identity and gender identification. That’s what we’re saying. Let’s all be honest in this room. Everybody sitting in here knows that’s what this is about. You know, representative,” Richardson told Casada.

“I think there’s nothing homogeneous about this bill. But I think there’s a lot that’s homophobic about this bill.”

Casada replied, “It’s not homophobic, although I am deeply disturbed,” that the Metro Council “would jump on this small Christian school of Belmont and attempt to inflict their morality on this small Christian school.”

The bill, which has yet to begin moving in the Senate, prohibits cities from extending protections against discrimination to categories not mentioned in Tennessee’s statewide civil rights law. That law, while barring discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, gender, age or national origin, does not include sexual orientation or gender identity.

34 Comments on this post:

By: Loner on 4/26/11 at 5:38

Jeanne Richardson, D-Memphis should receive some sort of witticism award, for exposing Rep. Casada's true motives in sponsoring his anti-GLBT Rights bill. Jeanne Richardson was quoted as saying: “I think there’s nothing homogeneous about this bill. But I think there’s a lot that’s homophobic about this bill.”

That's good stuff, IMO. It's humorous, because it has an element of truth in it.

Of course, the grandstanding Casada set himself up for that snappy comeback when he said, “This bill is about creating jobs and making things homogeneous across the state." Casada's advisers and handlers, (David Fowler?), must have encouraged him to use the word "homogeneous", so that he could say, "There, I used the word "homogeneous", now call me "homophobic."

Metro needs to lawyer up now. I would not wait for the TN Senate to rubber-stamp the Casada bill. Snooze, you lose.

The faith-based state government is telling a local government that it cannot create a law that would require exceeding minimum standards of compliance with state and federal law in the ares of human and civil rights. I do not know of any legal precedence for a state to nullify a local human rights or civil rights law that exceeds minimum standards of state/federal compliance. This Tea-Party tactic could represent new legal ground.

While it is true that local governments cannot create laws that nullify all or parts of state an/or federal law, they can, IMO, create laws that call for exceeding minimum standards of compliance in the ares of civil rights and human rights. That should be a primary component of Metro's legal argument, IMO.

Will Metro stand its ground, or will it concede the moral high ground to the powerful Judeo-Christian Zealots in the statehouse?

By: spooky24 on 4/26/11 at 5:50

Political posturing and insane correctness seekers show stupidity on both sides. In an attempt to bolster their political careers Metro Council members jumped on the Belmont issue as a soap box to proclaim their fairness and sensitivity to all voters. As always with the Gay community they misunderstand political reality and see these individuals(council members) as champions of their cause. When the realness of the situation shows members just jumping on the political correctness wave and riding it only to help themselves. I have given up trying to understand why the Gay community automatically believes politicians support their cause-when in reality they could care less. I can name at least 7 council members who fit nicely into this 'what have you done for me lately' group of panderers.
The legislators have a point, as I have just shown, with "“would jump on this small Christian school of Belmont and attempt to inflict their morality on this small Christian school.” They too can't see the forest for the trees if they think it's "morality" that drives the council when attention seeking is really the culprit.
A non issue, force fed by the media to inflict confrontation, has lead to this embarrassing debate(if it is a debate and not a sideshow) in which neither side cares about the core issue-they only care about themselves.

sp

By: budlight on 4/26/11 at 6:26

I agree that jumping on the bandwagon on the heels of the Belmont debacle is tantamount to inflicting metro's morality on Belmont. The media is a vehicle to spread hate and they do a good job. I believe that current anti-discrimination laws are effective and cover all aspects of discrimination. We need more enforcement of our current laws -- NOT more laws!

By: house_of_pain on 4/26/11 at 6:35

Glen Casada must be "in the closet". Those that rail against gay people usually are.

By: global_citizen on 4/26/11 at 6:39

I'm not sure how this is going to play out. The Senate will probably pass it. It's iffy whether Gov. Haslam would sign it into law.

But if that does happen, it'll go to court. One would think it would be a pretty open and shut case with the precedence of Romer v. Evans having said this kind of institutionalized discrimination is prohibited. But I think Casada, Fowler, and their ilk have realized that will be problematic and are trying to disclaim any kind of anti-gay motivation, although the mendacity of that claim is clear as glass.

All one has to do to see the real motivation is look at the heavy involvement of David Fowler and the so called Family Action Council of Tennessee (a misnomer if an acronym if there ever was one).

Hopefully a court will not entertain the specious rhetoric of those supporting this bill and will rightly strike it down.

By: Loner on 4/26/11 at 6:43

Casada and Fowler....sipping a cup of Tea....K_I_S_S_I_N_G.

I think you are on to something there, House...they doth protest too much methinks. Maybe they feel sanctified, godly and righteous, because, through faith and prayer, they are able to resist the natural temptations of their "sinful" homosexual natures....that could explain their zealotry.

By: global_citizen on 4/26/11 at 6:43

" I believe that current anti-discrimination laws are effective and cover all aspects of discrimination. We need more enforcement of our current laws -- NOT more laws!"

Spoken like someone who has never had to worry about being in demographic that has to worry about discrimination. Real classy.

By: house_of_pain on 4/26/11 at 6:45

Loner, we could use some wisdom on the legalization issue, in "Reader Comments".

By: Loner on 4/26/11 at 6:51

"Mendacity" is the perfect word to describe Casada & Fowler's claims, GC. I think of Burl Ives in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", when I hear, or read that wonderful word.

"Specious rhetoric" it is.

Fowler's FACT acronym actually stands for Fowler's Activist Christian Theocrats.

By: i.am.a.taxpayer on 4/26/11 at 6:53

Dear Tennessee General Assembly (particularly who voted for discrimination):
In case you had not noticed, Tennessee has a lot of problems, ranging from inadequate schools to insufficient health care to high unemployment, etc., etc., etc.

PLEASE start working to fix the PROBLEMS.

Maybe it is easier to look at things which get you publicity, especially if you are pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Please explain why the state should intervene to allow discrimination in Metro Nashville, especially about HOW this would fix any of the real PROBLEMS in the state.

State Legislators, you have a responsibility to your consituents and to the state as a whole. It is past time to step up and show some leadership or statesmanship or diligence or something useful to help the people in Tennessee.

By: Loner on 4/26/11 at 6:55

I saw that thread, House...I have no bona fide "wisdom", I do have an informed opinion...but thanks for the accolade....I'll take another look at that board....when it comes to Cannabis, I have some pretty strong opinions....as those who know me on these NCP boards can attest.

By: Rocket99 on 4/26/11 at 7:20

If I remember correctly, Mr. Fowler was one of the main supporters of the "Protect Marriage" crowd while he was sleeping around on his wife. What a freaking hypocrite!

By: Loner on 4/26/11 at 7:27

Fowler the Predatory Prowler? Hey, as long as it was with a female, that's forgivable, in his church. Maybe the tryst was cover, he may have been simply posing as a heterosexual. He could be bi.

Wasn't he also named in the TN Waltz sting? How did he beat the charges?

The man has chutzpah, you gotta hand it to him...disgrace has not deterred his ministry, his mission is unaffected by his own hypocrisy.....sadly, this joker has a following.

By: budlight on 4/26/11 at 7:33

global_citizen on 4/26/11 at 7:43
" I believe that current anti-discrimination laws are effective and cover all aspects of discrimination. We need more enforcement of our current laws -- NOT more laws!"

Spoken like someone who has never had to worry about being in demographic that has to worry about discrimination. Real classy.

Actually, I believe women "were" discriminated against at one time -- during my lifetime and to add to that, I am a senior citizen - discriminated against daily. So global, me thinks you don't know what you're talking about. Real classy!

By: WickedTribe on 4/26/11 at 7:36

I don't believe the Republicans can possibly portray this law in any way except homophobia (re: Romer v. Evans). The original law, the one that couldn't pass, was more inclusive with things such as minimum wage laws, etc. Casada had to strip the bill down to only its homophobic aspect to get enough votes to pass it.

http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/107/Bill/HB0600.pdf

So I believe it will be defeated in court, easily. My only concern is who will sue them and how long will it take? Metro government should do it, but will they? Will they do so quickly? Unfortunately, I doubt it.

By: dargent7 on 4/26/11 at 7:40

All these fools can pass, besides gas, is a guns in bars law that a majority of citizens, standing upright, didn't want and delay the wine in groceries bill, everyone wanted, for 5 years.
Any wonder no Presidential candidate campaigns here in the south? Who needs the dumbed down vote? All that's worthwhile down here to count is Florida.

By: The Blaster on 4/26/11 at 7:51

Really, its about people wanting to keep homo's down? You think people say they aren't going to hire homos? Who does that? No one says they don't want to hire homo's. No one says, hey they are really good at their job or they provide good service, but they are homo's so I don't want them to work for me or I'm not going to hire them to cut my trees because they are homo's. Really? Really? Who does that? If they do, why would you want them? Now, if a private school who has Christian values says they don't want someone who doesn't follow their beliefs working there, that is different. No different than if they say they don't want someone who drinks alcohol or steal. That is their belief system and that should be OK>

By: WickedTribe on 4/26/11 at 7:59

You're right, Blaster, that should be ok for Christian schools. What shouldn't be ok for Christian schools who practice bigotry is receiving tax funding from Metro. So if they don't want the tax funding, they can be bigots. If they want it, they have to follow Metro's rules. Pretty simple, fair system.

By: The Blaster on 4/26/11 at 8:02

OK, so if you don't believe homosexuality it right. If it is your belief that homosexuality is wrong. You are homophobic? I don't believe that homosexuality is right. I don't believe it is natural or normal. I don't think a man putting his male organ in another man's rear end is normal or natural. I don't know who would think that is normal. Don't tell me animals do it so humans should. My cleans his rear with his tongue and I won't do that either. I'm not homophobic, I just think what they do is wrong and not natural, just like I think someone drinking in excess is wrong or taking drugs that harm their body is wrong. I don't care to have someone who is a pedophile teaching my kids. How about you. People who have deviant sexual habits aren't people I'd want teaching my kids. That's not homophobic, that's being a good parent. There is accountability for our actions. You can't just do whatever you want without consequences.

By: The Blaster on 4/26/11 at 8:06

WickedTribe, Really, you believe that? You want to carry that out to everything? You want government to decide how people believe on all levels? OK, then if people are getting government help, then they should be forced to not use drugs, buy alcohol with our money. OK, I'm for it. Let's do it. Let's also get all the fat people off the list, because they cost us money and they are over eating. No? You are right. I want my government to decide how everyone should live and believe! Let's do it. All those who break marital law should be out too. Those who don't pay all taxes, out.

By: JeffF on 4/26/11 at 8:13

I am lost, are we protecting religious independence or rights for gays? Apparently one must infringe on the protected rights of one group (religion) in order to grant rights to a non protected group (sexual lifestyle). Are we mad that the state came down on the side of the legally protected group or are we just mad that people with a strong religious belief structure will not be made to conform to our "learned" understanding of the world.

There is a whole lot of close mindedness and bigotry here this morning. Oddly enough it is coming from the ones who think they are the open ones in the debate.

By: budlight on 4/26/11 at 8:17

By: dargent7 on 4/26/11 at 8:40
All these fools can pass, besides gas, is a guns in bars law that a majority of citizens, standing upright, didn't want and delay the wine in groceries bill, everyone wanted, for 5 years.
Any wonder no Presidential candidate campaigns here in the south? Who needs the dumbed down vote? All that's worthwhile down here to count is Florida.

D7, you live in the south. Are you a contributor to the "dumbing down" syndrome? And Florida only has "old" people. They don't count for much -- or so you younger people think.

By: Antisocialite on 4/26/11 at 8:26

The Blaster said:
Now, if a private school who has Christian values says they don't want someone who doesn't follow their beliefs working there, that is different. No different than if they say they don't want someone who drinks alcohol or steal. That is their belief system and that should be OK

Likewise, if a municipality that values their gay population says they don't want someone who actively discriminates against gay people contracting with them that's OK too, right? Right?

Oh wait, that makes too much sense.

By: BenDover on 4/26/11 at 8:34

This is kind of ridiculous. I mean the rule in the first place is ridiculous but having the state come in and change something like this that the community's elected representatives decided on is over-stepping I think .

I don't have time to dig into the meat of this today but that's my first impression.

By: Antisocialite on 4/26/11 at 8:42

BenDover said:
This is kind of ridiculous. I mean the rule in the first place is ridiculous but having the state come in and change something like this that the community's elected representatives decided on is over-stepping I think .

Thank you Ben! At long last, an intellectually consistent conservative voice. I'm dumbfounded at the idealogical disconnect that so many conservatives are showing on this issue. Had this been the federal government stepping in to make a law specific to Tennessee, against the wishes of the General Assembly and the voting public, we would have seen rhetoric rivaling the Civil War Era, yet when it is the state interfering with municipal affairs it's somehow fine. You can't have your cake and eat it too!

By: Mike Burch on 4/26/11 at 9:36

If you're not a rich or a bigoted, intolerant conservative Christian, the handwriting's on the wall ...

YOU HAVE BEEN MEASURED AND FOUND WANTING, by US, the Chosen Few

Republican politicians have become stooges for the rich, special interests and conservative Christians. Therefore their agenda is heartless and threatens everyone who doesn't fit the required mold.

If we want to remain free, with the freedom to be different than the bigoted, intolerant pack, we need to organize and vote these bozos out of office, quickly.

Mike Burch

By: Radix on 4/26/11 at 10:25

Ahh the tolerance diversity and inclusion in the comments... I'm all warm and fuzzy!! If Stewart and company are worried about Nashville governing itself, why not repeal smoking preemption? Let Nashville make it's own smoking laws.

By: BenDover on 4/26/11 at 12:42

Geezzz Burch... you've really been slurpin' the kool-aid lately. The repubs are exploiting a few wedge issues just like the dems do all the time. It's called politics.

By: PhiDelt496 on 4/26/11 at 2:38

How can you be for a woman's "right to choose' to abort a pregnancy, but not support a business owners "right to choose" not to put protections against discrimination in their handbook. Belmont and these other companies are not receiving government "handouts" they are performing a service and receiving compensation for it. Usually at a very reduced price just to win the business. Government contracts are usually not very profitable, they are primarily used to maintain steady revenue to keep lights on and payroll met.

I dont see how overturning the Metro ordinance is "good for business" so i dont buy that argument, but I also dont see how it is homophobic or anti-GLBT.

I also dont really agree with the state telling Metro that they cant pass laws governing their business. So I am completely torn on this issue.

I feel like Metro went overboard passing this in light of the Belmont Coach's termination, which led the State to go overboard stopping it. I guess I have to go back to two wrongs dont make a right.

By: JeffF on 4/26/11 at 3:18

The "right to choose" is written in disappearing ink in the Bill of Rights. It only shows up when read by people with the correct cause to promote. It is otherwise known as the 10thpoint1 Amendment.

Funny how the press in their lack of education is always ready to treat "Common Law" as written-in-stone Constitutional law. Common law, as with the Dred Scott decision, can be overturned once the evils of the particular protected institution are finally discovered and repulsed by the people and a new set of judges. There are a whole lot of baby humans, particular minority ones, all waiting for the moment when they can be safe.

By: brrrrk on 4/26/11 at 3:41

PhiDelt496 said

"I dont see how overturning the Metro ordinance is 'good for business' so i dont buy that argument, but I also dont see how it is homophobic or anti-GLBT."

Really, then what is it? What other reasonable reason could there be? Is it because they don't like the way the GLBT community dresses?

By: pswindle on 4/26/11 at 8:56

Everyone has equal rights under the Constitution. I think that includes gays, straights, white ,black and whatever nationality one happens to be. I just don't understand where the GOP is coming from. Why are they taking aways our rights? TN wake up before it is too late..

By: Moonglow1 on 4/26/11 at 10:39

Moonglow1: Casada & Fowler should get together with Butts & Beavers. I thought Republicans were against "Big Government" meddling. Well why are they overturning a Metro law? They should stay out of Metro business. Isn't Casada the same person who championed vote picture r ID's to "retain the purity" of the ballot. Right-he is against gay people & against people of color. What other reason could he have for pushing to overturn the existing law & thus the will of the people?

By: pswindle on 4/27/11 at 10:21

Is Casada the town fool in College Grove?