Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Megan Barry to Belmont: Just Because You Can Do It Doesn't Mean You Should

Posted By on Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 4:46 PM

On the same day protesters gathered at Belmont, at-large Metro Council member Megan Barry — who was lead sponsor on the same-sex nondiscrimination ordinance passed last year to protect city employees — added her voice to the chorus of disapproval over Lisa Howe's departure in a prepared statement:

The situation involving Belmont University’s soccer coach reminds us that discrimination based on sexual orientation continues to be a source of injustice in our community. I look forward to the day when Nashville joins the many dozens of cities and counties across the nation including Louisville, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Atlanta, that have written sexual orientation into local discrimination laws.

Having said that, it’s important to keep in mind that Belmont would in all probability be exempt from such a law as a religious organization. Nevertheless, what’s happened at Belmont illustrates in a compelling way how tragic this kind of thing can be for those involved. Losing your job because of who you are doesn’t become easier to swallow just because it happens in a faith-based organization.

Even though Belmont’s actions are within the law, the fact that they can do it does not mean that they should. The voices of dissent that we are hearing both inside Belmont and around Nashville are evidence that many in our community, including people of faith, are deeply uncomfortable with Belmont’s actions. I add my voice to theirs in urging Belmont to catalyze a thoughtful conversation about whether fairness and equal treatment on the basis of sexual orientation can co-exist with the religious principles upon which the university is based.

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