NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Five openly gay members of Metro Council announced Monday that they formed a new LGBTQ Caucus.
Metro Council now has a record number of LGBTQ representation following the September 2019 election: New members Emily Benedict (District 7), Zach Young (District 10), and Russ Bradford (District 13) won their elections and joined incumbents Brett Withers (District 6) and Nancy VanReece (District 8) as the open LGBTQ members in Metro Council.
The group met October 5 to create what is formally called the LGBTQ Caucus of the Nashville and Davidson County Metropolitan Council
VanReece, who is on her second term with Metro Council, is chairing the caucus. Withers is Vice-Chair and Bradford will serve as Secretary.
"We felt it was important to form as a caucus so that we could establish some sort of understanding as to what it is we may be able to do collectively," VanReece told News4 in a phone interview.
VanReece says the caucus has four primary goals:
- Promote awareness and advocate equality of treatment and opportunity to all LGBTQ people in Davidson Co.
- Provide context to legislation, when necessary, to ensure visibility, protection, and advancement of the LGBTQ community of Davison County.
- The LGBTQ Caucus will make recommendations on matters as a whole when a majority of the Caucus has a stated position on that matter.
- The LGBTQ Caucus will actively seek the opportunity to collaborate and support the Minority Caucus and the Women’s Caucus of the Metropolitan Council by simple majority consensus.
"It's always a big deal whenever you have a situation where you are in a group of people that has been historically under-represented and you find yourself in a position to be able to represent, and I think that it is extremely encouraging, the diversity of council, to have a voice and to share that voice," VanReece said. "There are kids in Davidson county that are looking to us to be a representation of them as much as the adults, and all of us have heard from kids about the influence we've had on them being able to be 100 percent themselves. We take that seriously and want to be good representatives."
VanReece was the first out woman elected to a legislative body in the state of Tennessee when she was voted to Metro Council.
"Seeing the encouragement of [LGBTQ] folks stepping up to even run has been very exciting," she said. "Davidson County has worked very hard to get to the place that it is in regard to being a welcoming community of all people, and we will continue to do our best to be a part of that story."