Conservative leader targets five on Metro Council to defeat nondiscrimination bill

Friday, January 28, 2011 at 12:21pm

A Tennessee Christian-right leader is advising opponents of a bill that would extend Metro’s nondiscrimination policy to city contractors to contact five "key council members,” seemingly to urge disapproval of the ordinance.

David Fowler, a former Hamilton County state senator who now heads the conservative Family Action Council of Tennessee, has highlighted Metro Council members Sam Coleman, Emily Evans, Frank Harrison, Walter Hunt and Lonnell Matthews Jr. as possible swing votes on legislation that would require companies that do business with Metro to include employment protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered workers.

Earlier this month, Fowler hosted a closed-door meeting with dozens of notable business leaders, Christian conservatives and Republican state Reps. Glen Casada and Jim Gotto to plot their strategy to defeat the proposal. 

The bill, sponsored by council members Jamie Hollin and Mike Jameson, is up for the second of three votes Feb. 1, but sponsors have said they plan to ask for a deferral to allow Mayor Karl Dean and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce time to review the legislation. The bill cleared the council’s first reading by a 22-13 vote, but some yea-votes were presumably made to adhere to council process to direct the legislation into the council’s committee system. 

In an email obtained by The City Paper, Fowler discusses the bill sponsors’ intentions to defer the bill, acknowledging it would be unlikely to override their intentions.

Anticipating that a vote before Feb. 15 –– the subsequent council meeting –– is unlikely, Fowler points specifically to five council members whom he seems to believe could play a pivotal role in deciding the fate of the ordinance. He provides reasons why he believes three of them may oppose the pending bill and posts their phone numbers.

• Coleman –– “He was a ‘no’ on the 2009 ordinance and probably cast a courtesy ‘yes’ vote on Tuesday.”

• Hunt –– “Initially opposed/expressed concern about ordinance in 2009 in committee but then switched” 

• Evans –– “She represents part of Bellevue and could be open to pro-business argument”

The “2009 ordinance” Fowler refers to is the bill the council approved a year and a half ago to update Metro’s nondiscrimination policy that applies solely to Metro employees. “Tuesday” refers to the first of three votes on the bill at issue. 

Fowler, who could not immediately be reached for comment, doesn’t provide reasons for including Matthews and Harrison on his list.

Contacted by The City Paper, Evans didn’t seem to know why her name was included.

“I guess it was because I wasn’t there for the vote on first reading,” Evans said. “My husband was in New York and my son was home along throwing up. So, I guess that’s the only reason.”

Matthews said he’s seen the email, adding he’s already formed a position on the ordinance. 

“I’m supporting the bill,” he said. “There’s probably no way to really sway me, unless there was some way to show me that this was going to be financially detrimental to any private enterprise. I don’t see it as such, and I don’t see how it could be.”

Hunt seemed confused why Fowler has opted to go through others to contact council members.

“If he has a question with any bill that comes to the council, I think it would be more appropriate if he would contact me, rather than going through a third party,” Hunt said. 

“I’m not understanding what his purpose is for the comments,” he said. “Where does he fit in this thing? I want to know who he is. I don’t ever recall even seeing the guy.” 

5 Comments on this post:

By: Loner on 1/28/11 at 3:31

The plot sickens.

This is a cut-paste from the Family Action Council of Tennessee, (FACT), homepage:

Our Mission:

To equip Tennesseans and their public officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values the traditional family, for the sake of the common good.

Our Goals:

Engaged Citizens ... Godly Officials ... Strong Families

"Godly Officials"? That's a scary concept for any small "d" democrat, the term smells of theocracy. Like the Founding Fathers, I prefer the constitutional secular democratic approach to governance, as opposed to rule by Divinely-sanctioned "Godly officials".

FACT is definitely a pro-theocracy lobby, it may also be some sort of Political Action Committee devoted to Godly rule. They advocate mixing Christian church matters with matters of state.

David Fowler, President of FACT is a professional zealot and the man is on a mission.

Fowler wrote: FACT hopes to become a valuable resource for your family, your church and your community.

Obviously the "community" that Fowler is talking about does not include the GLBT community. Those sinners are excluded from the pastor's flock.

Mr. Fowler is playing the role of Christian Crusader, defending good and Godly folks from a "gay agenda" and the oppression of "special rights" for the GLBT community.

Fowler uses Jesus of Nazareth, as cover for FACT's anti-GLBT agenda. According to the New Testament, Jesus, the Christ never mentioned homosexuals or homosexuality, ....Fowler runs the risk of spreading a heretical view of Christ's message of love, forgiveness and inclusion.

(King James Version) Isiah 5:20
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

By: govskeptic on 1/29/11 at 5:39

It appears your pro-agenda is show just as much zealotry as does
Mr. Fowler's against said proposal. I suppose most coins and ideas
on this subject has two sides. All of us are free to express our
opinions and take reasonable actions in defending those positions.

By: Loner on 1/29/11 at 7:22

One huge difference, Govskeptic, Fowler gets a fat paycheck for his zealotry...I get personal satisfaction, but no money. Pastor Fowler is a pro, I am an amateur.

By: Nitzche on 1/29/11 at 9:53

amateur is a good word to describe, how did you get out of Jonestown, did not drink that Kool Aid, but making up for the missed opportunity? One more thing, when did you move to Nashville and bring your Northeast swagger?

By: Loner on 1/31/11 at 6:19

Thank you, Nitzche, for responding to my post. I've been away for the last few days and could not respond until now.

Yes, the definition of an amateur is one who does things for the love of it; not for the money. Today, calling someone an "amateur" might be considered a pejorative; but I freely accept the title.

Does my Northeast swagger actually show? I've been working on that; thanks for noticing.

The Kool-Aid analogy is getting a little's trite, and in the sense that you used it, inappropriate, IMSO....(In My Swaggering Opinion).

One last thing, Nashville is an All America town, as an American, I have every right to comment here.

Again, thank you for your concern.