It could be several weeks before the Metro Council begins deliberation on an ordinance that would require Metro contractors to adopt nondiscrimination policies protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers.
Councilman Mike Jameson, one of the sponsors of the ordinance, said last week he plans to defer the ordinance for at least one council meeting. Currently, the bill is set to go before the council on the second of three votes in February. A deferral would push the vote back.
Jameson said he hopes to give two still-noncommittal parties — Mayor Karl Dean and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce — a chance to review the legislation and formulate a position. Both are stakeholders whose opinions could go a long way in determining whether the bill passes or fails. Neither has offered a stance, although Dean has said government should be cautious in over-regulating the private sector.
In the past, Dean’s critics have called him out for his reluctance to chime in on controversial issues — he stayed out of the fray during debate over the proposed May Town Center mega-development and during the back-and-forth over Metro schools’ recently adopted student assignment plan.
Jameson said he believes the mayor will express his position sometime prior to the council’s vote on the bill, as he’s done with other legislation.
“This is a vote that is going to boil down to a razor-thin margin,” Jameson said. “Every voice matters, and I hope to hear from a large number of community leaders, including the mayor.”
Some observers have wondered whether Dean is waiting to hear the position of the chamber, whose spokeswoman said it’s still studying the ordinance.
“We don’t have an official chamber position on it,” spokeswoman Stephanie Coleman said last week. “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.”