Leaders of a state Tea Party group are telling followers to voice opposition to a Metro ordinance that would require companies contracting with the city to adopt employment protections for gay, lesbian and transgendered people.
The bill, sponsored by council members Erica Gilmore, Jamie Hollin and Mike Jameson, would extend Metro government’s nondiscrimination policy, which covers sexual orientation and gender identity, to companies that do business with the city. The council is set to consider the bill on the second of three votes Feb. 15.
In an email sent to supporters, organizers of the Springfield-based Tennessee Tea Party say that they were alerted by the Family Action Council of Tennessee to “sound the rally cry to stop this insidious ordinance.” The Family Action Council, a conservative Christian group led by former Hamilton County state Sen. David Fowler, has been working behind the scenes to defeat the bill.
“This is something that should concern us all even if we do not live in Metro Nashville,” the Tennessee Tea Party email reads. “All too often what happens in this council will have great ramifications across the state. This ordinance will [a]ffect all business owners who wish to contract or do business with Metro Nashville. This is not strictly an anti-gay issue.
“This is simply big government politicians and social scientists imposing oppressive regulations on business owners that will only open the door to harassment lawsuits,” the email goes on to say. “Nobody in these issues wins except for the trial lawyers. The costs of all this mess is then passed on to us as consumers and taxpayers.”
Jameson, who represents parts of East Nashville on the council, said the Tennessee Tea Party is just “repeating the same misinformation” that other opponents have suggested.
“There’s a statement that it imposes ‘oppressive regulations’ when all [the ordinance] does is add four words to a requirement we’ve upheld for decades,” Jameson said. “And by alleging that nobody in these issues wins except for trial lawyers, it perpetuates the false impression that litigation results from these ordinances. And as best as we can tell from other cities that have already adopted it, it flat out doesn’t.
“If they’ve got something accurate to submit and if they want to talk to me, I’m happy to have that discussion,” Jameson added.
The Tea Party email continues by urging followers to attend the council’s Feb. 15 meeting to demonstrate their disapproval of the bill. The letter includes the email addresses of Metro council members, asking Davidson County residents to contact them and request they vote against the ordinance.
Meanwhile, bill sponsors say they are still waiting word from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Karl Dean for their stances on the bill.