Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

No substitute for equality: Why the Coleman bill falls short

As Jeff Woods reported early this morning, Metro Councilmen Sam Coleman, Phil Claiborne, and Duane Dominy have filed an ordinance to counter the real non-discrimination ordinance filed by Council Member Megan Barry and nine others.

Coleman's ordinance reads: "It is unlawful for the metropolitan government to discriminate against any person in recruitment, examination, hiring, appointment, training, promotion, retention, or employee discipline because of non-merit factors. For purposes of this section, “non-merit factors” are those factors that relate exclusively to a personal or social characteristic or trait and are not substantially related to successful performance of the duties of the position."

If there are Council Members who can't figure out the definition of sexual orientation, then I suspect that "non-merit" factors will also be a problem. It's incredibly vague. If the opponents of the real non-discrimination ordinance filed by Barry et al thought it would invite lawsuits, then they should hate Councilman Coleman's bill. People would think they could sue for anything under this new bill. Furthermore, the bill is unlikely to offer any real protection. Woods paraphrases the opinion of Law Director Sue Cain: "But legal director Sue Cain already has said Coleman's bill wouldn't provide any new protection for gays and lesbians. Essentially, in fact, it would do nothing, Cain says."

The real problem with Coleman's bill is that the citizens of Nashville did not ask for it. Perhaps the Family Action Council or the Tennessee Eagle Forum did. The citizens of Nashville (as represented by over 30 groups including Churches and neighborhood associations) back the bill that Council Member Megan Barry and the nine other sponsors have introduced. You can find that list here including future updates.

No comments: