The council voted 21-15 to require firms doing business with the city not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and to sign affidavits to that effect. Contractors already agree not to discriminate against federally protected classes.
“I think this is a great move for Nashville and it’s a great step to show we believe in equality,” said Erica Gilmore, one of the co-sponsors of the bill.
Council member Jamie Hollin called the vote “a milestone moment” for the city.
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“As of today, no matter who you are, you’re welcome in the city of Nashville,” said Hollin. “Not only can I tell my son that it’s not cool to hate gay people, it’s the public policy of this city.”
But many of the opposing members said the bill would hurt the city and send the wrong message to the business community.
“We are sending a clear message to those who do business with this city that we don’t want you, we don’t want your product, we don’t want your service if you don’t adopt our moral standards,” said Councilman Phil Claiborne.
“The message it sends is that if you’re talented and willing to work, you’re welcome in Nashville, Tennessee,” said Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project.
Mayor Karl Dean has said he supports the bill, and is expected to sign it.