The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce still hasn’t formed an official stance on a pending Metro Council proposal that would require companies contracting with Metro to adopt nondiscrimination policies that cover sexual orientation and gender identity.
“We don’t have an official chamber position on it,” chamber spokeswoman Stephanie Coleman said Monday. “But because the ordinance would impact business, we have been researching the issue and getting feedback from our members about what the potential impact would be. That’s kind of where we are right now.”
Asked when the chamber may announce a position, Coleman said, “I’m not sure of an exact timeline.”
The introduction of the bill, sponsored by East Nashville council members Jamie Hollin and Mike Jameson, came after the controversial December dismissal of Belmont University women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe, who left the school after revealing to her team that she and her same-sex partner are expecting a baby. The ordinance, which would require third-party vendors that do business with the city government to adopt Metro’s nondiscrimination protections, passed on the first of three council votes on Tuesday.
Jim Gotto, who currently serves as both council member and Republican state representative representing the Donelson area, has warned either he or another council member may pull the bill individually on Tuesday to force a rare first-reading vote on the bill.
He has said the bill could have a “chilling effect” on business in Davidson County.
To the casual observer, Gotto’s warning may not seem terribly threatening. However, typically all council ordinances clear first reading unanimously without debate as a way to direct legislation into the council’s committee system. Pulling the bill separately, as Gotto has suggested, would make council members have to immediately cast a yea or nay vote on the hot-button issue.
Besides the chamber, Mayor Karl Dean also hasn’t announced his position on the ordinance.
The City Paper could not reach Dean for comment on Monday due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. But in a December interview, the mayor expressed hesitance about supporting a bill that, in his words, could lead to the over-regulation of business. At the time of the interview, sponsors still hadn’t formally filed the ordinance.
“I’m not saying I wouldn’t consider something,” Dean said in December. “You have to look at everything. But my natural sense is that we should not be over-regulating the private sector.”