Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Shining Moment For Nashville

My hometown grew up a lot last night, and I couldn't be more proud.

After weeks of intense debate, Nashville's City Council voted to pass not just one, but two non-discrimination ordinances that grant equal protection for Metro employees regardless of "sexual orientation" or "gender identity." The original bill, first sponsored by Council Lady Megan Barry, passed a required third and final reading last night, 24-15, effectively making the bill law. More than 50 area organizations, including churches, neighborhoods and labor unions, publicly supported the ordinance.

Other Council members, led by Sam Coleman, offered an alternative bill, claiming that broader protections for "non-merit" factors such as political party affiliation were also needed. Ironically, the bill's language, which was supposed to extend broader protections, omitted "gender identity." That bill too ultimately passed, but not before Councilman Erik Cole's amendment to include gender identity was added.

Much to the chagrin of Coleman and his supporters, the alternative bill - bearing their names - now includes the very words they explicitly (and passionately) opposed to begin with. The fate of Coleman's bill is now in the hands of the City Council as it moves to the final legislative stage. One foreseeable scenario is the argument that Coleman's bill is now unnecessary, given that the Barry bill has already accomplished the ultimate objective.

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