NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Metro Council members Tuesday night advanced a bill that would ban the discrimination of Metro employees based on their sexual orientation.
The ordinance would “prohibit the Metropolitan government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
A similar measure, proposed in 2003, led to a political firestorm and the ordinance eventually failed by one vote.
Chris Sanders, chair of the Tennessee Equality Project, supports the ordinance, saying the city of Nashville needs to “catch up with other workplaces.”
“I think Metro would be a more competitive employer if it would add sexual orientation and gender identity to its non-discrimination policy,” he told News 2 Wednesday.
Metro Councilman Robert Duval says the ordinance is not needed and voted against it Tuesday night.
“I am adamant there is no need for it,” he said. “We have court systems in place, we have laws in place.”
Those that support the measure argue that's where the argument begins.
“There are no state or federal or local protections for sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Sanders.
To that, Duvall says, “Everybody has these rights under the constitution, but these people are going to have additional rights.”
Council members passed the ordinance 24-9 Tuesday, but Duvall expects some members will change their vote before a final tally is taken after the third reading.
“The public is against this according to polls,” he said.
“We have the support of Mayor Karl Dean and a new makeup of the council this time,” he added.
Former Mayor Bill Purcell did not lend his support in 2003.
The Metro Council will take a second vote next month and a third potentially two weeks after that.