A three-month fight over a proposed antidiscrimination ordinance in Nashville ended Tuesday with a narrow defeat of the measure. Vice mayor Howard Gentry cast the tie-breaking vote to kill the proposal
after the metropolitan council deadlocked 18-18. The ordinance would have protected gay and lesbian employees of the metropolitan government. The proposal had drawn heavy opposition from conservative religious groups, including the Southern Baptist Convention, which had threatened to move its 2005 national meeting from Nashville if the ordinance passed. "The community has been blessed tonight by the action," the Reverend Paul Durham, pastor of Radnor Baptist Church, said after the vote.
Supporters had amended the ordinance in hopes of gaining approval, changing it to apply only to metropolitan government employees. An earlier version would have protected gays in the private sector in Davidson County. "The council has sent a message to gay and lesbian employees that they are not willing to recognize gays and lesbians as citizens," said Rhonda White, a resident who urged the ordinance's passage. But Gentry said the ordinance wasn't needed. "In my research I have not determined that there have been adequate number of complaints...to justify passing a law when discrimination hasn't been proven in metro government," he said.