No CAN-DO

While we cannot take on every issue impacting business, it is important to step in when that issue undermines not only the economic well being of families, but God’s design for human sexuality—sex within the confines of marriage.

A campaign has been launched to have Metro Council in Nashville require certain private businesses to essentially recognize homosexual conduct and cross-dressing as a new civil right in employment practices. The campaign is called CAN-DO, standing for “Contractor Accountability Non-Discrimination Ordinance.” But many are starting to understand the implications of the proposed ordinance and are saying, “No Can Do.”

After passing an ordinance back in the summer of 2009 making homosexual conduct and cross-dressing a specially protected class of employees within Metro Nashville government, supporters surreptitiously tried to get the Metro Human Relations Commission to make all private employers in Davidson County provide civil rights protections to cross-dressers and to those who want to be treated as belonging to the sex opposite that assigned at birth (collectively called “gender identity/expression”). They got an opinion from Metro Council’s attorney (note: not Metro Government’s legal department, but Council’s attorney) to the effect that the ordinance applicable to Metro’s employees should be applied to private employers. Thankfully, that effort was brought to our attention and with our assistance, Council members who opposed the Metro employees ordinance sent a different legal opinion to the Human Relations Commission and told them, “No can do.”

But when Belmont University parted ways with a lesbian coach whose partner was having a baby by artificial insemination, a cry of “discrimination” arose among some members of the community. Consequently, a few Council members are now intent on passing an ordinance that would mandate that private employers who do business with Metro make homosexual conduct and gender identity a protected class of employees within their own business (the ordinance would also apply to organizations that want to lease any Metro facilities for more than six months). But business leaders are beginning to rise up in opposition to the campaign to pass the ordinance saying, essentially, “No can do. This is bad for business.”

Bad for Business

Quite apart from what one may think about the ethics of homosexual conduct and cross-dressing, the ordinance is indeed bad for business. Among other reasons, it is more regulation of business and more regulation inevitability leads to businesses having to spend money to comply with those regulations and, in this instance, increases the risk of being sued. The costs of compliance and litigation and any increase in insurance premiums to protect against the risk of that litigation will be passed on to consumers. In this case, the consumer is Metro government with whom these businesses will be contracting. And, of course, taxpayers are the ones who pay Metro government’s bills.

Supporters of the ordinance say that it doesn’t make any employer do anything because they do not have to do business with Metro. And in that they are correct. But they fail to understand that if some contractors begin to decline to bid, then the lack of competition will drive up prices.

But they also fail to understand that what they do does not just affect employers in Metro Davidson County. They have failed to grasp the concept of intra-state commerce. Employers in surrounding counties, and indeed, across the state, are free to bid on jobs anywhere in the state. So when a business in a county surrounding Metro, or from some other part of the state, decides not to bid, that business loses an economic opportunity that would bring income and jobs to the county in which that business is located. In essence, Nashville begins “messing” with employers in other counties and “messing” with the taxpayers and residents of that other county, all to advance a social agenda.

In other words, nothing about this ordinance has anything to do with creating jobs or stimulating the economy or reducing the cost of government. It is a social agenda pure and simple, and business leaders are beginning to rise up and say, “Enough. Leave us alone. We are not social agenda advancement agencies for government.”

Bad for Intra-State Commerce

That is why The Family Action Council of Tennessee’s sister political organization, known as Family Action of Tennessee, is bringing to the legislature a bill that would take away the power of local governments to thwart intra-state commerce that would come from the creation of a hodgepodge of new regulations on business, including the creation of new civil rights not recognized under state or federal law. If there are going to be new civil rights, they should be of such significance that everyone should have to comply with them. If the civil right is good enough for the “goose” of some local government, then it ought to be good enough for the “gander” of state government. And if not good enough for everybody, then it’s not good enough, period.

Bad for Families

Some might say, “Why does The Family Action Council of Tennessee care about some economic issue? This is just a smoke-screen to thwart the advancement of civil rights by those who want to engage in homosexual conduct and dress opposite their biological sex.” The answer is simple. When moms and dads lose jobs, when economic opportunities are lessened, then that is not good for families. We believe small businesses are important to the economy, but the smallest, most fundamental, and most fragile engine of economic productivity that drives the whole train is the family.

While we cannot take on every issue impacting business, it is important to step in when that issue undermines not only the economic well being of families, but God’s design for human sexuality—sex within the confines of marriage. Were some politician to decide that porn addicts should not be “discriminated” against by businesses because they view porn at work, then we would oppose that regulation, too. Were some politician to decide that adulterous relationships in the workplace should be protected, then we would oppose that, too.

We hope you will join us in the coming months as our state legislators debate whether local governments should have the power to create and impose new civil rights on private businesses. Help us urge them to say to local governments, “No can do.”