Last night, I received an email form the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) about a new GLBT victory in Tennessee. As Chris Saunders and H.G. Stovall reported, “By a vote of 24 to 15, the Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County has passed the non-discrimination ordinance that will now protect Metro government employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. ”
However, the evening was not without its drama as a second nondiscrimination ordinance (NDO), which was introduced on during the second reading of the original NDO, which contained alternate language which only protected employees against discrimination based on “non merit factors”. Two amendments were proposed for the weaker ordinance:
- Amendment (1): added Sexual Orientation to the list of protections. It passed by voice vote.
- Amendment (2): added Gender Identity. It passed by a voice vote of 22 to 17, but only after opposition started clamoring about safety issues in bathrooms.
As Dr. Marisa Richmond, president of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, put it, “That was the moment I knew we had everything in the bag! This also gives us a specific vote on how councilmembers feel about transgender people.”
The weaker bill was then read as amended and passed its second reading by a vote of 28-11. It’s third reading will be next month on October 6th.
Finally, the original NDO, originally introduced by lead sponsor Megan Barry, was put to a final vote and passed. Not only did the LGBT community have a win tonight, but the second amended NDO will likely pass as well giving the Nashville area two effective nondiscrimination ordinances.
TEP is not stopping there as their email continued:
As we celebrate this important victory tonight, we want you to know that we are not resting. We will work to make sure the Metro ordinance is effectively implemented. We continue to prepare to advance a non-discrimination ordinance in Memphis this fall, and we are exploring options for similar efforts in East Tennessee. As always, our team is working on plans to defend your rights when the Tennessee General Assembly reconvenes in January. We are determined that equality will come to every corner of our state. Let tonight’s victory reverberate throughout Tennessee.”
Celebrate indeed! This is one more step that Tennessee will take towards the advancement of equality for all of its citizens as well as a small step into the 21st century. Way to go Nashville!