There’s some discord among Music City ministers, who express a variety of opinions on a pending ordinance that would require contractors working with the combined Nashville-Davidson County government to pledge not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Although churches and other religious organizations would be exempt from the ordinance, secular businesses would not be able to cite owners’ religious beliefs to avoid compliance. For that reason, the Reverend Maury Davis, pastor of the Cornerstone Church (pictured), says he’d advise congregants not to do business with the local government, The Tennessean reports.
“If I am a sole proprietor of a business, who I hire is not the government’s business,” the Pentecostal minister told the newspaper. “How would I know if someone is gay unless they made an issue of it?” He also called the proposed ordinance an endorsement of homosexuality.
Old Hickory United Methodist Church pastor Jay Voorhees, however, said that while his denomination disapproves of homosexuality, he has no problem with the ordinance. “I don’t think it’s inappropriate for the government to say that the rights of all people should be protected,” he said.
The Reverend Greg Bullard, who leads a majority LGBT congregation at Covenant of the Cross, endorsed the measure without reservations. “If you are doing business with a government, you are representing the government,” he said. “You need to abide by their rules, just like someone working for our church has to abide by our rules.”
The Nashville-Davidson metro council gave preliminary approval to the ordinance this week and will take a final vote on it March 15. Lisa Howe, ousted last year as women’s soccer coach at Belmont University in Nashville after she announced that she and her female partner were expecting a child, has written the council a letter in support of the measure. Nashville-Davidson government workers are already protected against anti-LGBT discrimination, but employees of private companies in the city and county are not.
Meanwhile, at the behest of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, a state senator and representative have introduced legislation that, if passed, would override the pending ordinance. Read more here.