Lisa Howe hoping for approval of Metro anti-discrimination bill

Monday, January 17, 2011 at 10:05pm

As the Metro Council begins deliberation on a controversial nondiscrimination proposal, the woman whose job departure helped ignite the debate might be watching from the gallery.

Lisa Howe, former women’s soccer coach at Belmont University, told The City Paper she hopes to attend Tuesday’s council meeting to track the progress of a bill that would require companies contracting with Metro to adopt nondiscrimination policies that cover sexual orientation and gender identity. Howe said she supports the legislation.

“I had some things already scheduled, so I’m trying to rearrange my schedule so that I can go,” Howe said. “If I don’t make it [Tuesday], I’ll definitely be able to go in the future. Hopefully, it goes through to second reading.”

Howe, who is gay, left her Belmont position in December after revealing to her team that she and her same-sex partner are expecting a child. Her departure, which former players have said came under pressure from school officials, led council members Jamie Hollin and Mike Jameson to introduce a bill that would require companies that do business with the city to adopt the same non-discrimination policy already applied to the government, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity protections.

“I think it’s a natural extension of the non-discrimination policy that they put into place in 2009,” Howe said, referring to the measure the council approved last year and that addresses only Metro workers.

But critics have said the new bill would have a “chilling effect” on Davidson County businesses.

At least one Christian-right organization, several business leaders and two Republican lawmakers met last Wednesday to discuss their concerns. Among those in attendance was Republican Rep. Glen Casada of Williamson County, who said he plans to file a state bill that, if approved, would prevent local municipalities from forcing private businesses to adopt such nondiscrimination policies.

Also at the meeting was Jim Gotto, who currently serves a dual role as both Republican state representative and city councilman. Gotto said either he or another council colleague would likely pull the bill separately on Tuesday to allow for a rare first-reading vote on the ordinance. Typically, all council legislation clears the first of three votes unanimously to direct bills to the council’s committee system.

“The fact that it has been threatened to be singled out,” Howe said, alluding to Gotto’s warning, “that gives me more urgency to be there.”

Moving forward, Howe, who is still searching for a new job, said she hopes to have a larger presence in advocating for the approval of the pending legislation, along with other equality issues. 

“Other than applying for jobs, I’ve been gradually getting back into being more active as far as pushing for equality, whether it’s raising awareness, or educating people, or getting involved in something like this in city council,” Howe said.

“I can put a face to equality right now, and I’m going to take advantage of that while I have it,” she said.

Belmont officials have not indicated whether they plan to change what amounts to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it comes to the sexual orientation of their employees.

“I think the public is still interested in what Belmont is going to do, as far as making a decision on if they’re going to change their policies or not,” Howe said. “The longer they wait to make a statement, the more involved I get again because media wants to know what’s going on, and they ask me.” 

Over the weekend, Howe attended a baby shower where she got to see several members of Belmont’s women’s soccer team.

“It was good to see everybody,” Howe said. “Everyone’s so nice.” 

22 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 1/18/11 at 5:56

Is Ms. Howe looking to become the Face and Soul of the Belmont Policy on anyother subjects, or to just become the footnote in a historical publication? Helpful would be her Name listed in the Bill's caption in order to immortalize the ocassion!

By: Wild Bill on 1/18/11 at 7:29

Wild Bill

Does this city really want to act like California. Look at what the government edicts have done to business in that state. Business are fleeing California. Do we really want business to flee Davidson county and go over the border to our neighboring counties? Come on mayor Dean put an end to this now!

By: oomarty on 1/18/11 at 8:10

Mayor Dean is the visionary this City needs. We must rethink how damaging discrimination can be to children who are told they cannot have the opportunity to succeed because of the way God made them. Children a put in a terrible situation between being hated by people who are there potential employers and having to lie about who they are to succeed. Our Mayor is offering a level playing field where all have an opportunity and do not have to lie about who they are.

By: livinglively57 on 1/18/11 at 8:40

No one should be discriminated against because of sexual orientation, period. It's hard to believe that in 2011 we are even talking about this...but we are, it is happening, and everyone needs to understand that this is about more than your personal opinion about being a is about the allowing of discrimination towards any particular group of people. For if it is allowed to continue, the next group discriminated against could be yours.

I am glad to see Ms. Howe taking an active role, using her plight to underscore the bigotry that is out there. The amount of hatred towards anyone "who is not like us" is unbelievable in this world.

This universe is a big place...this planet, this place we live called Earth is a tiny speck in a vast sea....we have only got each other...for God's sake let us learn to live together, accept each other's differences and make our time here a peaceful one.

By: yogiman on 1/18/11 at 9:20

I agree, livinglively57. No one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.

My question is: Why is someone so proud of being a homosexual the want to announce it to the public? Who cares what your sexual orientation is, except your partner?

By: 2476 on 1/18/11 at 9:53

yogiman, I agree: Why would anyone be running around yelling to the public that I am a heterosexual or a homosexual person. But come to think of it I don't recall anyone running around shouting " I am a heterosexual ". It looks like now they are after attention. Also saying God made them that way, Then why has science never found a gene showing that a person is made that way. It looks an awful like a choice more than being made that way.

By: Nitzche on 1/18/11 at 9:56

prove your Gay...i need a visual!

By: Nitzche on 1/18/11 at 10:07

is this the munchin carpet bill?

By: xhexx on 1/18/11 at 10:11

Of course she is. Queers ruin everything.

By: pswindle on 1/18/11 at 10:31

Why has Belmons not rehired the Coach. If they want to prove that they do not discriiminate, then rehire her. Problem solved.

By: yogiman on 1/18/11 at 10:48

Problem would stay the same, pswindle.

Question: are you proud of your sexual desires? Do you run around bragging about it? No one I know of does. Whose damn business is it except yours.

My argument would be that homosexuals would want to announce their desires to others so they could be better known for attractions.

By: PKVol on 1/18/11 at 11:20

oomarty said: "... because of the way God made them." If, by this statement, you mean that we are all born with a sin nature, then, yes, you are correct in that God made them. However, if you are alluding to the fact that homosexuals are born as a homosexual and have no way of not being a homosexual, you are completely wrong.

People aren't born with any sort of sexual orientation, babies don't copulate or get aroused, so sexuality is not an inborn trait.

The 'guilt' that homosexuals feel is their conscious telling them it is wrong, this is God's way of trying to steer the sinner back to righteousness.

I know many of you are going to cry 'hater' at me; I don't hate homosexuals anymore than I hate murderers, thieves or child molesters or even speeders, stop light runners or jaywalkers, but I sure hate the acts that they do when it affects me and my life. And when you ask how a homosexual affects my life, it affects my life because it lessens what my marriage is about, a monogamous, faithful relationship, ordained by God as one man and one woman as He deemed marriage to be in His Word.

By: left on 1/18/11 at 11:53

You can do what you want on earth,but you will answer to GOD in the end. If you agree with homos and other sinners rights,then so be it. But don't force your beliefs on the rest of us, cause we believe in a higher being, GOD,and his word will rein forever and ever. So if you want to act or be gay then keep it to yourself, I will pray for you .

By: yogiman on 1/18/11 at 11:55

Keep hitting those nails on the head, PKVol. Maybe someday a few of those pro-homos will understand what life is all about. Homosexuals do, in fact, affect every one else's life they are acquainted with.

By: trtay2004 on 1/18/11 at 11:58

After reading all the responses to this article, I understand why this bill is so important. There are a lot of people who are just ignorant and believe they have the right to personal judge and condemn anyone they choose.

By: delltechkid on 1/18/11 at 1:30

@trtay2004 - You're right. Reading this board shows how important this kind of legislation is. People should receive and maintain jobs on the basis of their skills and abilities, not on ANY other extraneous qualification.

@yogiman - You assume that all gay people go around announcing to the world they're gay. That's not exactly true, especially in a place like Tennessee. The problem is the same problem that existed with DADT. You don't have to say yourself that you are gay, someone else could make that accusation for you, and you lose your job.

By: yogiman on 1/18/11 at 1:33

Wrong, trtay2004.

The government has no Constitution authority to tell a private business or corporation who they must place in their workforce.

OK, OK, I know a lot of people think they do, but where is it written in the constitution?

There are businesses that do hire regardless of the personal sexual relations of a possible employee but I have never known of one that encouraged them to brag about it and make obvious displays of it on the job.

By: yogiman on 1/18/11 at 1:37

I'm not a gambling man, but I would bet you some hard earned money Ms. Howe would still be coaching the girls' soccer team at Belmont University if she had kept her private life to herself, and any other at the most, her "partner".

By: jvh2b on 1/18/11 at 3:31

As a gay man myself I'm glad they haven't found a gay gene. If they did all you Hilteresqe fools would be calling for a cure.

Speaking of gay gene...did they ever find the straight gene?

Hmm...makes one wonder if sexuality is more deeply ingrained/influenced than by chromosomes...

By: yogiman on 1/18/11 at 11:39


You say you are glad they haven't found a "gay" gene. If there isn't a gay gene, what encourages a person to become "gay"? It can only boil down to personal desire.

If that's what you want, do it... but keep your mouth shut about it. We "normal" people have no desire to know and couldn't care less.

Being gay has changed our language. No happy person wants to be known as having a gay time any more.

By: Loner on 1/19/11 at 7:41

For those posters who use Holy Scripture as their moral roadmap, let me suggest a few items.

Although the Old Testament Holy Men seemed to consider homo-sexuality to be an abomination and a damnable sin against Jehovah, Christ, that is Jesus of Nazareth, did not mention the subject, to my knowledge.

Sure, Saul of Tarsus (Saint Paul) expressed his opinion on this subject when he wrote his part of the New Testament, but that man wrote about a great many things that Jesus never touched upon. Pauline Christianity and the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth are not the same thing....therein lies the rub.

Jesus may well have been a homosexual man; perhaps that is why they crucified him. Think about it. He was never known to have dated a woman, he was single. He was surrounded by fawning disciples, all men...according to the Gospels, Christ washed their feet...I can't imagine today's mega-pastors washing other men's feet....too queer.

Using Jesus as a homophobic boogey man is unbecoming for an institution of higher learning....Belmont resembles a madras more than a university.

By: Loner on 1/19/11 at 7:49

My bad "madras" should have been "madrassa" ( Alternate spellings include, "madrasah" and "madrasa". )

Imo, Belmont resembles a madrassa more than a university.