State Senate votes to nullify Metro's anti-gay bias ordinance

Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 4:14pm

Disregarding arguments that they are behaving with a “dictator attitude,” state senators voted Thursday to nullify Metro Nashville’s anti-gay bias ordinance and to bar any other Tennessee city from adopting such laws in the future.

The state House adopted the conservative Christian-backed bill on April 25. It now returns to the House for concurrence on a routine amendment, at which point Gov. Bill Haslam is expected to sign it into law.

The bill’s Republican proponents cast it as an attempt to help the economy in Tennessee by prohibiting conflicting regulations in cities across the state.

“When it comes to nondiscrimination practices, we should be consistent across this state,” said Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Brentwood. “When we get into a situation where various counties and various municipalities have different policies with regards to discrimination, I think we start down a very slippery slope.”

Democrats pointed out the Metro ordinance doesn’t ban discrimination by all businesses in Davidson County but only those contracting with the city. It requires those companies to adopt policies agreeing not to discriminate in hiring on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.

“We’re business-friendly. We’ve worked hard to be a business-friendly city,” Sen. Thelma Harper, D-Nashville, said. “When the council passed this, they knew exactly what they were doing. I would ask you to hold up this judgment of [Metro] Council members, who were overwhelmingly elected to take care of Metro Nashville’s business. This impacts Nashville only. I’d really hate to think that those persons who come from everywhere else would take on a dictator attitude toward council members, who have been duly elected to do what they do.”

The Christian conservative Family Action Council of Tennessee put heavy pressure on lawmakers to vote for the state legislation, producing a video that suggested that city ordinances against gay discrimination would open women’s restrooms to child molesters. In the video, a little girl entered a women’s restroom at a public park followed by a sinister looking man.

“Do gender differences matter to you?” the video’s narrator asked. “Is that the kind of Tennessee you want?”

55 Comments on this post:

By: revo-lou on 5/12/11 at 3:51

Surely our esteemed governor will veto the bill. You know, to save the state all that lawsuit defense money.

By: WickedTribe on 5/12/11 at 4:48

But then you'd be presuming that Republicans care about anything related to governing or state management, revo-lou.

I think it's obvious at this point that all they care about is bigotry and oppressing the common man.

By: bnabreaker on 5/12/11 at 5:40

I am in no way a mean-spirited person, but I can honestly say that I genuinely hate despise these hypocritical sociopaths. They are truly, truly evil people. The one thing that allows me to rest easy is knowing that eventually, progress and human rights always wins out over paranoia, ignorance, and the hate that those two things sometimes breed.

If these people have such a problem with the ideals of freedom and equality that this nation was founded on, then there are places in this world more suited to their so-called "moral values". Uganda and Saudi Arabia come to mind right away.

By: pswindle on 5/12/11 at 7:24

The republicans have such misplaced power, and all will suffer.

By: spooky24 on 5/13/11 at 3:06

I could care less about this issue however calling a person a 'sociopath' is way out of line. I know the writer is using the term generically still you just busted your own case. Accusing someone-you don't know-of a serious psychopathic disorder and calling for 'fairness' at the same time is ludicrous.


By: house_of_pain on 5/13/11 at 5:31 the taxpayers will get the bill for another lawsuit. Just what we need.
The Senate should have ignored the terribly misguided members of the Family Action Council.

By: serr8d on 5/13/11 at 5:39

"oppressing the common man", Wicked Tribe?

Gays are neither common, nor men AFAIC. Not anymore. There's a line that a man does not cross; to cross that line, one becomes not-a-man.

You might want to wear another man's penis as a chinstrap, but 'common' men do not.

By: serr8d on 5/13/11 at 5:50


The one thing that allows me to rest easy is knowing that eventually, progress and human rights always wins out over paranoia, ignorance, and the hate that those two things sometimes breed.

Heh. He said 'breed', something that gays cannot do. As for 'winning out', that's not necessarily truth, either. By some definitions, being gay is a disease, a condition that one is 'born with'; in which case eventually 'progress' might find a 'cure' for gayness and apply it to the fetus in the womb (or in the test tube), and eliminate the gay condition entirely.

Gayness is not one of the human animal's 'survivability' genes. It is an aberration, and is only noticeable at all because we have such a large population. WHEN humans are forced (by 'mother nature') down to more sustainable numbers, the 'critical mass' that is the gay 'movement' (and culture) will again be barely noticeable.

Enjoy your time with that culture (such that it is); it's likely just gonna be a fleeting flash in human history.

By: Kosh III on 5/13/11 at 6:00

What was the bill number? Who voted for or against? Why is this basic information NEVER put in an article?

By: Moonglow1 on 5/13/11 at 6:51

Moonglow1: domination is the hallmark of these legislators. They care nothing about the public. I was at The Belcourt last night to hear The Freedom Riders. They risked their lives for social justice & freedom. These tea legislators are just the opposite: cowards, followers, and ignorant dictators.

By: Wild Bill on 5/13/11 at 7:05

Wild Bill

Ok, MS Howe will you tell the public the real reason you were fired? And will you explain that it had nothing to do with your "orientation".

I am glad the government does not want to be so intrusive (dominate) as to tell me that I should or should not hire someone based on where and who they sleep with.

A big thanks to the current state legislators and the governor when he signs this bill into law!!!! Liberty as been served well.

By: CountryBoyinCity on 5/13/11 at 7:11

Not sure how passing this bill fits into the whole "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" thing Christ talked about... actually it sounds like the type of attitude he railed against.

By: global_citizen on 5/13/11 at 7:13

The motivations driving HB600 are as transparent as can be, but since when is honesty and integrity a qualification to be a Tennessee state legislator? I don't know one person, for or against, who could honestly tell you they believe this bill is about standardizing statewide commerce instead of an anti-gay culture war crusade of the religious right.

The fact that HB600 has been ostensibly promoted, with all due fake sincerity, as a business and commerce bill, just may see it stand up to a court challenge. Very clever on the part of its proponents, but also very disingenuous.

Hopefully when this does go to court (as I expect it will) it will be heard by a judge who has no patience for the slimey sophistry of Glen Casada and David Fowler and the court will issue an opinion that gives them a good rhetorical smack down as well as an overturning of this bill.

By: global_citizen on 5/13/11 at 7:20

"By some definitions, being gay is a disease, a condition that one is 'born with'"

By some definitions? Who's definitions? David Fowler, Fred Phelps? Definitely not anyone in the medical or scientific community.

The uneducated, misinformed opinion of medieval mouthbreaters does not constitute a "definition".

By: Ingleweird on 5/13/11 at 7:34

Wild Bill:
Lisa Howe did not want to be a poster child for this issue; rights activists picked up from when she got fired. I imagine she had a severance package which stipulated that she not sue the school or speak to the press regarding her employment and dismissal. Besides, she's got more pressing concerns, such as her family and raising her child.

Of course, Mr. Bill, this issue is way over your head. You wouldn't know the definition of "liberty," if it was crucified, buried in a cave, and reincarnated on the 3rd day.

By: schlueterwhite on 5/13/11 at 7:53

Shame on my fellow Tennesseans for electing so many HypoChristians into office to begin with. I'm sure every one of them swore on the Bible to uphold the Constitution ... but none of them swore on the Constitution to uphold the Bible.

"Tennessee Legislature ... Making Canada Look Better Every Day."

By: Nitzche on 5/13/11 at 7:54

oh,, Northeast roots where are you? these backward southerners are going further back than we ever expected! If they keep this up we will go ba......wait a minute, got a little carried away, we are not going anywhere, we are going to stay and remake this hick town in our northeast cultural image, and we are going to use thelma harper to make our point!!

By: howelln on 5/13/11 at 8:08

Since the Reagan era, I have found it curious that the party of "less government" seems to want to pass more laws that limit the rights of their citizens.

By: WickedTribe on 5/13/11 at 8:17

Actually serr8d, I was referring to the Republicans hurting the commom man with regressive taxes (sales tax), breaking up unions, fighting minimum wages, fighting corporate regulation, etc. That's why I listed it -separately- from bigotry.

But I do consider homosexuals to be the common man, much moreso than I would consider people like you to be.

By: Captain Nemo on 5/13/11 at 8:55

Christ says to love one another, however HB 600 says that Christ is wrong and only love business. The GOP knows best.

By: Captain Nemo on 5/13/11 at 8:57

serr8d is really a gay blade. He just can't come to terms.

By: Radix on 5/13/11 at 9:10

Ingleweird said: "Of course, Mr. Bill, this issue is way over your head. You wouldn't know the definition of "liberty," if it was crucified, buried in a cave, and reincarnated on the 3rd day."

You really like that quip don't you, Ingleweird?

By: iTiSi on 5/13/11 at 9:30

About time they did something worthwhile. They have become rather useless lately and not keeping their promises when elected. Now, get busy and get that illegal immigration legislation passed. Don't forget legislators, your turn for re-election will be coming around again, and you too can be replaced just like the others.

By: Levon on 5/13/11 at 9:31

serr8d doth protest too much, methinks.

By: trtay2004 on 5/13/11 at 9:36

It's just sad. It's the 2000's and our state is looking more and more like the haters in the 1950's when Blacks were trying to fight for equality. Don't give up everyone. Continue to fight against these narrow minded hypocritical people that destroy the name of God with their beliefs. My God loves everyone (even these Senators), so I'll try to love them too......

By: lamons on 5/13/11 at 9:54


The facts show that virtually all, 90% plus, of Fortune 500 companies have anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation. Our pathetic state legislators are clearly sending a message that Tennessee is backwards and uneducated,which our low rankings in education validate. Companies looking to expand or grow will be aware of this issue and it will hurt our state's ability to recruit. It is beyond my undertanding that so many posts on this issue still feel that the Metro law was dictating who you could hire. It was simply saying that if you want Metro business in Nashville (totally your choice), you had to include this NON-DISCRIMINATION clause in your company policy. Why is that so hard.

By: Term on 5/13/11 at 11:36

@Nitzche (sic.)

Your bigotry against people from the South is just as contemptible as the bigotry you condemn in others. Don't fret about justifying it. To be human is to be a hypocrite.

By: Ben Dover on 5/13/11 at 12:14

Because it is no business of Metro Davidson County to try to tell me what kind of policies I must have in my privately owned business. Why is THAT so hard to understand?
Maybe so many conservative people in the state were appalled at what the Gay community was able to do to a religious/Christian school and forcing them to accept a devaint lifestyle that they rose up and put many conservatives in office. Those elected officials are now doing the will of the State, not Metro. Just placing a check and balance on the rabid gay movement. The attack on Belmont was way over the top and the gay community just sticks its head in the sand and acts oblivious as to what they did. Or was this an orchestrated agenda on their part?

To the ones calling for election, we have one coming up pretty soon downtown!

As for all this blah blah blah on a lawsuit, what makes anyone so sure it won't pass constitutional and legal muster? I for one think it stands a very good chance at standing (notwithstanding liberal appointed judges prior to the Supreme Court).

By: Ben Dover on 5/13/11 at 12:16

There are many more things that companies are looking at than gay rights issues to come to the state. Things like no income tax, shall-work status, etc. are much more important than this ordinance.

By: revo-lou on 5/13/11 at 12:32

Ben, the county is not telling you how to run your business. It is saying that if you want IT'S business, then you need to follow these rules. Not much different than anything else, it is just that YOU don't like this rule.

By: Ben Dover on 5/13/11 at 12:50

Same difference. The county is TELLING me I have to have a nondiscrimination policy in my business. Plain and simple. I don't understand how you can't understand this. I would fold my business before I would sacrifice my beliefs. There are more people and opinions in the state besides those of the gay activists.

By: Captain Nemo on 5/13/11 at 12:52

Metro will not do business with a company that want hire a certain group of people. No where does it say that a business has to hire a group of people. Ben you are making excuses for a dictatorship.

By: revo-lou on 5/13/11 at 12:58

Ben, it is not the same difference. No one is saying that you have to implement the rule, UNLESS you want to do work with the city. Don’t like the rules, don’t bid on work from the city. Seems simple enough. There are ALL kinds of rules required for every business that works for the city, because that is what the city deems is needed for its best interest. Why is THAT so hard for you to understand?

By: Captain Nemo on 5/13/11 at 1:00

So you want hire a gay, Ben. That is your business and so you don’t have to. Unless you are doing business with Metro. If this is the situation then I can see why you don’t like it

By: Ben Dover on 5/13/11 at 1:13

Then Metro is discriminating against me because I won't pander to the gay lifestyle and that is OK?

By: Ben Dover on 5/13/11 at 1:15

I never said I wouldn't hire a gay. Where did you get that impression? A government has no right to tell any business what kind of policy they must implement ESPECIALLY if it is pandering to a politically correct activist organization.
Must be election time in Nashville.

By: Ben Dover on 5/13/11 at 1:19

Let's say I pay metro taxes and those taxes are used to fund a project and I want to put in a bid for that project, but because I don't have a policy in place that placates the politically correct then I am not entitled to get some of my tax money back while a like business from say San Francisco that pays NO local taxes and has the PC policy in place takes that tax money and sends it back to San Francisco instead of spending it here like I would. You are saying that is OK?

By: Loner on 5/13/11 at 1:30

Wait 'til Lady Gaga gets wind of this....there'll be hell to pay in Music City.

By: revo-lou on 5/13/11 at 1:42

Ben, first, metro is not saying that you have to pander to anything. You don’t have to promote it, be a part of it, like it, or even know about it. What they are saying is that if you want to work for them, then you can’t discriminate against those that do. There are many who may feel the same way about women, or blacks, or geriatrics as you appear to about gays. Should the city not have the policy in place that they do to prohibit discrimination in those cases?

Second, if you won’t pander to it, why would you hire someone who is gay? And the government has every right to tell you that if you want to do business with them, that you have to follow the rules they deem important to what they value. Same as for any company that you do business with.

Third, what difference does it make what the rules are, if a company is from out of state, they are from out of state, and that happens ALL the time.

Fourth, in your abstinence, do you check the company policy of every place you go to spend money, such as restaurants, clothiers, grocery stores and the like? You might be surprised at the places you shop that have polices about people that offend you so.

By: Loner on 5/13/11 at 2:01

Hopefully, the Governor will veto this novel "anti-anti-gay bias" bill; but if he signs it into law, it will invite litigation, as well as a certain amount of national attention. Boycotts are possible, ironically, the new convention center, in Nashville, might take a direct hit.

Of course, Nashville and the Volunteer State could now develop an image as a welcoming enclave for KKK reunions and white supremacist conventions. With institutional bias like this, Tennessee is building-up its reputation for being an oasis for Right-wing Christian hate groups, like Fowler's FACT.

This case is unusual, IMO, in that this is a case in which a local government wished to exceed minimum standards of compliance, in the areas of civil & human rights, but were denied permission to exceed minimum standards of compliance. This has to be fresh legal ground; there may be little, if any precedence for this sort of state action.

Metro needs to stand its ground and be seen as a welcoming, tolerant and progressive city.

Failure to vigorously challenge this centerpiece of Tea Party oppression might reasonably be viewed as acquiescence to bigotry.


By: global_citizen on 5/13/11 at 2:10

"The county is TELLING me I have to have a nondiscrimination policy in my business"

Do you have contracts with Metro Nashville? If not, not one little thing has changed about how you have to do business. Clear enough?

By: Ben Dover on 5/13/11 at 2:28

Global, Glad to debate you here also! Go back and read my last post on paying taxes. You are telling me if I don't consent to a progay policy I have no chance to recoup any taxes paid to the city by me or my business, but an out of state company can take my tax money out of the state because they kowtow to the left? Do you not see a little discrimination here?

Loner, lets go ahead and get one thing straight. We Christians hate the gay lifestyle. OK? Now that is out of the way.
What about all the bigotry against Christians everytime we come on here and debate the gay agenda? Care to comment on that? Which side is most likely the first and most vocal on demeaning name calling?

By: Ben Dover on 5/13/11 at 2:30

REVO-Lets apply your "logic" to churches. Let's say the gay community gets the metro government to pass an ordinance saying that anytime you get a permit to rezone and build a church that you MUST include a nondiscrimination policy. How would you stand with that?

By: Ben Dover on 5/13/11 at 2:32

As for Loner's Lady Gaga comment-you aren't kidding!! Can't wait for the costumes!!! LOL!

By: Loner on 5/13/11 at 2:43

Ben Dover rolls up his sleeves and gets serious:
Loner, lets go ahead and get one thing straight. We Christians hate the gay lifestyle. OK? Now that is out of the way.
What about all the bigotry against Christians everytime we come on here and debate the gay agenda? Care to comment on that? Which side is most likely the first and most vocal on demeaning name calling?

I see, you Christians hate the gay lifestyle and you get called names when you want to debate the so-called "gay agenda"...and the other guys always start in first with the demeaning name-calling. Can I get you a tissue?

My "comment" is simply that the "gay agenda" is a straw man argument, concocted by professional zealots and trumpeted in the right-wing media and echoed in the right-wing blogosphere.

Members of the GLBT community simply want the same rights that heterosexual Americans already enjoy; they do not seek "Gay Supremacy", or "Special Privileges", they simply want and deserve to live in a society in which their human and civil rights are recognized, codified and respected.

By: revo-lou on 5/13/11 at 2:50

Ben, I am not following you on the church thing. The bill passed by metro says for business that is done with metro, not business to business. I don't think that you can project, even to this current crop of council members, that they intend to establish rules such as that.
It takes repubs to make that kind of legislation!

By: Ben Dover on 5/13/11 at 3:07

I am just conjecturing something that is highly likely in the future given metro's PC track record. Go back and read the post completely. If they can attack a religious college, what is to stop them from attacking churches themselves and getting metro on board with forcing them to have a "non-discrimination" policy before they can get a permit to construct a church. Surely you can see what I am getting at. That is unless this is causing too much embarassment for you.

Loner they can get the same rights. They just have to marry normal not "alternatively". Why should they have "special or preferential" treatment?

By: revo-lou on 5/13/11 at 3:30

Embarrassment? Why? And, what are they telling Belmont to do? Nothing that I can tell. Belmont did choose to make a policy to reflect what their staff, students and contributors, in other words everyone that makes up what Belmont is, deemed as prudent to the real world. Seems logical.

We more often than not live our lives by what happens, not what may happen. We are reactionary as a course of nature. Again, the projection of “what ifs” just don’t cut it. Let’s stick to the current times and issue.

I noticed that you have not answered my query as to your spending habits. Are you diligent in your research to assure that you do not cross any line that may soil your beliefs? Or, are you embarrassed to admit that you really are out of touch with what happens around you?

By: Ben Dover on 5/13/11 at 3:44

Revo due to the pressure put on Belmont by the gay activists they had to compromise their beliefs. That does not sit well with me and I no longer have the same high regard of Belmont that I once did. They should have stuck to their guns no matter the consequences. They were reactionary as you say. Maybe a couple of harassment lawsuits would have been in order. I don't know. All I know is that it is no longer the religious conservative school it once was. It is possible that metro will try to force nondiscrimination on churches just as they did Belmont. You see I believe in being PROACTIONARY. If we had taken a few stands 10 years ago this would not have even been much of an issue. This is only one of the issues I am addressing with my legislators. They mostly agree.

By: EquinsuOcha on 5/13/11 at 3:58

No way should the one or two percent of the population who practice this deviant life style tell the rest of us that we should accept it....period.....