Metro Nashville’s new anti-discrimination ordinance, which restricts city contractors from discriminating against people because of sexual orientation, would be overturned by a measure which cleared the state House of Representatives Monday.
Representatives from Nashville and Memphis argued against the new measure, saying cities have a right to create their own work environments, without being told what to do by the state.
And Representative Jeanne Richardson, a Memphis Democrat, expressed moral outrage.
“I personally think, as a moral issue, that discrimination against gay people about jobs, is wrong. I personally strongly feel it’s wrong. So what this bill really is, is anti-gay.”
Richardson’s accusation was refuted by Williamson County Republican Glen Casada, the bill’s sponsor. Casada maintains he simply wants to keep the state from having a proliferation of different work rules in different cities and counties.
“This is the salient point of this bill – do you want one town, or six or eight towns, in this state, telling every business, that if you do business with me, you will comply this way.”
Casada’s bill would retroactively undo the Nashville anti-discrimination ordinance.
Representative Casada had earlier tried to get a more detailed bill passed. That one would have stopped the City of Memphis from requiring that contractors pay a minimum wage (“living wage”) to workers on city projects.
Democrats and a couple of Shelby County Republicans helped derail that proposal (HB 598).
Casada resurrected the part outlawing more strict anti-discrimination laws 24 hours after the Metro Council passed the new ordinance protecting workers on city projects from being discriminated against on the basis of sexual preference or gender identity.
The Senate version of the bill goes before the Senate State and Local Government Tuesday.
The bill is HB 600 Casada/SB 632 Ketron.
The bill passed the House 73-24. That vote is here.