HRC Blog

Nashville Passes Ordinance Requiring Contractors to Have Inclusive Non-Discrimination Policies

This guest post comes from Katie Hill, political co-chair of HRC’s Nashville steering committee.

Last night marked a milestone moment for Nashville’s – and Tennessee’s – LGBT community. The Nashville/Davidson County Metro Council voted by the slimmest of margins to pass an ordinance requiring city government contractors to include sexual orientation and gender identity in their company nondiscrimination policies.

Passage of the Contractor Accountability Non-Discrimination Ordinance, or CAN-DO, marks the first time any Tennessee city has voted to require that government contractors have nondiscrimination policies that apply to sexual orientation and gender identity.  Nashville joins cities like Bloomington, Austin, Tucson, and St. Louis in enacting such a law.

The road to final passage was perilous, as the bill had to pass three separate and contentious readings, each of them by narrow margins. On the third reading, several Council members rose in opposition to the bill, contending that it was “unconstitutional” and proof of “the gay agenda.”

In the months leading up to last night’s vote, members of the Nashville HRC Steering Committee and HRC political and field staff worked in tandem with the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) and other local groups to bolster support for CAN-DO, by organizing card-writing parties, attending Council meetings, calling Council members, and assisting with media relations.

More than 70 businesses, congregations and labor groups endorsed CAN-DO, and HRC helped TEP line up several business supporters, including Nike. In the end, 21 Council members voted in favor of the ordinance – the minimum number of votes required for passage – with 15 against and three abstentions. HRC is proud to have assisted in getting this historic legislation passed. As I overheard someone exclaim outside the Council chambers last night, “CAN-DO? CAN-DID!”

(Link to local TV news story with video: http://www.newschannel5.com/story/14389865/council-passes-non-discrimination-bill-on-3rd-reading.)

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