Mayor Karl Dean was unambiguous in his first public statement about the nondiscrimination ordinance, which was officially filed with the Metro Clerk on Tuesday.
The ordinance, which was introduced by at-large Councilwoman Megan Barry and co-sponsored by at-large members Tim Garrett, Ronnie Steine and Jerry Maynard, would make it unlawful to discriminate against a Metro worker based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The ordinance would also make it unlawful to discriminate against someone applying for work with Metro on those grounds.
“I am against discrimination,” Dean said. “Everyone should be treated fairly when it comes to employment with the Metropolitan Government. I support this ordinance.”
At least six other Council members had already signed the legislation as of Tuesday. Barry filed the ordinance last week with Council offices last week but waited to send it over to the Clerk’s office so as many members as possible could co-sign it.
A nondiscrimination ordinance was introduced in 2003, but ultimately failed. Barry has said in the past that the time has come to protect “all of our brothers and sisters in Metro,” and Steine predicted last week the ordinance would pass through Council.
“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.”
At least one Council member is unsure if an update to the nondiscrimination policy is the best way to prevent discrimination.
District 4 Councilman Michael Craddock said he preferred mandatory diversity sensitivity training for Metro workers over an ordinance.
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.
There was speculation that the ordinance would go beyond Metro government and apply to private businesses in Davidson County, but the Steine said Metro should lead by example first.
The ordinance will be on the July 21 Metro Council agenda.