Tennessee Clergy Oppose the General Assembly's Slate of Hate

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Clergy wishing to add their names to this letter should contact us at chris@tnequalityproject.com

As clergy serving the people of Tennessee, we oppose six pieces of legislation under consideration in the Tennessee General Assembly that attack the LGBT community. 

The values of justice and hospitality compel us to speak out for the dignity of LGBT people and to oppose any effort to enshrine discrimination in the laws of our state.

We urge all people of goodwill to join us in seeking fairness for all residents of Tennessee and to consider the unacceptable ramifications of the following bills:

SB30/HB33. The LGBT Erasure Bill.  By requiring that the words “father,” “mother,” “husband,” and “wife” be given their natural and ordinary meaning, this bill interferes with the identities and families of LGBT people.

 

SB127/HB54. The Business License to Discriminate Bill.  This subtly worded piece of legislation actually opens the door to allowing businesses and nonprofits to discriminate in their HR and benefit policies while using taxpayer dollars.

 

SB752/HB892. The Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act states the policy of Tennessee to defend marriage as only between one man and one woman regardless of what the courts say.

 

SB771/HB888. The Anti-Transgender Student Bathroom Bill. This bill requires students to use restrooms according to the sex designation on their birth certificates and not according to their gender identity.

 

SB1085/HB1111. The Sneaky LGBT Erasure Bill.  This bill does everything that SB30/HB33 does while trying to hide the effects upon the LGBT community from the public. 

 

SB1153/HB1406. The Attack on Parenthood Bill.  This bill repeals statute that deems a child born to a married woman as a result of artificial insemination, with consent of the married woman's husband, to be the legitimate child of the husband and wife.  This bill is directed at lesbian couples and could affect other couples.

 

Rev. Ken Edwards, Old Hickory, Wilson County

Rev. Gordon Gibson, Knoxville

Rev. Dr. Diana L. Hynson, Nashville

Rev. Jake Morrill, Oak Ridge

Rev. L. Susan Bond, Jackson

Rev. Joe-d DowlingSoka, Chattanooga

Rev. Steve Wolf, Clarksville

Rev. Jeff Briere, Johnson City

Rev. Judi Hoffman, Nashville

Rev. Elaine Blanchard, Memphis

Rev. Brandon Gilvin, Chattanooga

Rev. Pamela Hawkins, Nashville

Rev. Rik Rouquie, Nashville

Rev. Annie McClure, Nashville

Rev. Paul Slentz, Nashville

Rev. Beth A. Richardson, Nashville

Rev. Tim Kobler, Knoxville

Rev. Emily Reeves Grammer, Madison

Rev. John Feldhacker, Nashville

Rev. Kevin Mitchell, Murfreesboro

Rev. Christine Grace, Chattanooga

Rev. Susan Gray, Nashville

Rev. Anna Golladay, Chattanooga

Rev. Steven Sherman Oak Ridge

Rev. Laura Bogle, Maryville

Rev. J. Peter van Eys, Nashville

Rev. David McIntyre, Normandy

Rev. Greg Bullard, Madison

Rev. Heather Harriss, Nashville

Rev. Jim Hughes, Nashville

Rev. Tim Bath, Murfreesboro

Rev. Cynthia Andrews-Looper, Memphis

Rev. Andrew Ward, Nashville

Rev. Dr. Patricia J. Pickett, Ashland City

Rev. Jim Sessions, Knoxville

Rev. Susan Crawford, Cordova

Rev. Karen Kastler, Hendersonville

Rev. Norman Cunningham, Crossville

Rev. Slade Kyle, Memphis

Rev. Terri Weaver, Memphis

Rev. Tommy Sheppard, Memphis

Rev. Sarah Osborne, Memphis

Rev. Buddy Stallings Memphis

Rev. Kira Schlesinger, Nashville

Rev. Eric L. Murray, Knoxville

Rev. Ginger Isom, Chattanooga

Rev. Dr. Bindy Snyder, Memphis

Rev. Jeffrey Radcliff, Kingston Springs

Rev. Wolf Cole, Savannah

Rev. Ken Carroll, Chattanooga

Rev. Michael Alford, Goodlettsville

Rev. Carolyn Dipboye, Oak Ridge

Rev. Larry Dipboye, Oak Ridge

Rev. Aimee Moiso, Nashville

Rev. James Pappas, Sewanee

Rev. Kimberly Rodrigue, Nashville

Rev. Rachel Pence

Rev. Leonard Curry, Hermitage

Rev. Jeannie M. Hunter, Madison

Rev. Debra Dickerson, Hixson

Rev. Katherine H. Smith, Nashville

Rev. Bryan Curie, Nashville

Rev. Dr. Dale P. Andrews, Nashville

Rev. Leyla K. King, Chattanooga

Rev. C. Nolan Huizenga, Nashville

Rev. John S. McClure, Nashville

Rev. Karen Neely, Norris

Rev. Taylor W. Dinsmore, Chattanooga

Rev. RJ Powell, Knoxville

Rev. April Baker, Nashville

Rev. Thomas Artist, Jr., Elizabethton

Rev. John Mark Wiggers, Knoxville

Rev. Deven Hazelwood Johnson City

Rev. Margaret K. Zeller, Kingsport

Bishop Patrick Potts, Johnson City

Rev. Shane Smith, Kingsport

Rev. Canon Dr. James F. Turrell, Sewanee

Rev. Neil K. Raman, Memphis

Rev. Cal Calhoun, Knoxville

Rev. Chris Harpster, Kingsport

Rev. Lee M. Ragsdale III, Knoxville

Rev. Isaac Blevins, Chattanooga

Chaplain Jon Coffee, Knoxville

Rev. Dr. James Hudnut-Beumler, Nashville

Rev. Jason Bennett, Murfreesboro

Rev. Joy Warren, Murfreesboro

Rev. Shirley Bowman, Murfreesboro.

Rev. Brian Merritt, Chattanooga

Rev. Sandy Prigmore Lewis, Joelton

Rev. Keith Caldwell, Nashville

Rev. Canon William A. Kolb, Memphis

Rev. Ingrid McIntyre, Nashville

Rev. Beth Lefever, Cordova

 

 

 

 

 


What can I do THIS WEEK to resist discrimination?

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There are many things you can do to resist discrimination in Tennessee this week.

*Send a message to the Senate State & Local Government Committee against SB127, the Business License to Discriminate bill,  using this form.

*Today (Monday) in Nashville at the Capitol.  Attend the We Are Watching Rally at 3:30.  RSVP and learn more at the link.  TEP is grateful to the organizers for all their support.

*Today (Monday) in Franklin at 6pm.  Attend the TEP Williamson County Committee meeting.  RSVP here.

*Tuesday in Nashville at Legislative Plaza.  Attend the Senate State and Local Government Committee hearing on SB127 wearing RED.  The event begins at 10:30.  RSVP here.

*Tuesday in Memphis.  Attend the Trans Equality Rally at 4:30.  RSVP and learn more from our friends at OUTMemphis here.

*Wednesday in Nashville at Legislative Plaza.  Attend the House Civil Justice Subcommittee hearing on HB1111, the sneakier version of the LGBT Erasure bill and wear RED.  RSVP and learn more at the link.

*Consider making a small monthly investment in our work at this link.


Guest Post: Michael Finch on why requiring photo ID to access the Legislature is a bad idea

By Michael Finch
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When I heard that Senate Speaker Randy McNally was considering reviving ID checks and name tags to get into the Capitol, I felt sick to my stomach. As a transgender man, I know the stress that ID checks can cause folks in my community. And with legislation like the bathroom bill back up for debate, trans people need access to our legislators more than ever. 
ID checks can be a barrier to all kinds of folks - trans people, gender non-conforming people, undocumented people, folks who can't afford a photo ID...the list goes on and on. All of the concerns around voter ID laws apply to this situation as well.
I'm lucky enough to have my name and gender marker changed, but if I didn't, the prospect of having officers see an ID with an F and a female name on it, and then having to write that name on a name tag and wear it around the Capitol, would be enough to keep me from showing up. Being proud of your views doesn't mean you have to be comfortable showing an ID to enter the Capitol, and we should all be fighting against this attempt to chill free speech - whether it affects us directly or not.
Michael Finch is an alumnus of MTSU and active in the TEP Rutherford County Committee.

What can I do about the bathroom bill and the marriage bill?

Yesterday the anti-transgender student bathroom bill (SB771/HB888) and the TN Natural Marriage Defense Act (SB752/HB892) were filed by Sen. Mae Beavers and Rep. Mark Pody.  The bill filing deadline for Tennessee is today, so more could be coming.  When the bills are up in committee we will ask you to contact those committees about the bills.

Here's what we need now:

1. If you can attending Advancing Equality Days on the Hill-part 2 on March 7, RSVP here.  If you want to be a district captain who leads meetings with your legislators, contact me at chris@tnequalityproject.com .  Here is a list of current district captains leading meetings for that date.  If your senator or representative is not on the list, then we need you to help us fill out the schedule.

2. We have events coming up across the state including a Lobbying 101 in the Chattanooga area.  Get involved in one of them.  You can see the list here. We can always add more because we want advocacy to come to you and be accessible.

3. Consider making a small monthly contribution to fuel the defense of the LGBT community at this link.

Gratefully yours,

Chris Sanders
Executive Director


What can I do to resist discrimination in Tennessee?

What you can you do to resist discrimination in Tennessee?  There are lots of way to get involved with many groups across the state.  Here's a list of upcoming TEP events in East, West, and Middle Tennessee.  Get involved.  If there's not an event near you, contact us at chris@tnequalityproject.com and we might be able to schedule one.

Feb. 8.  Gallatin.  TEP Sumner County exploratory meeting.  RSVP at the link.

Feb. 14. Knoxville.  A Sweet Date: Valentine's Day Mixer.  RSVP at the link.

Feb. 19. Memphis.  TEP Gumbo Contest. RSVP at the link.

Feb. 20. Nashville.  TEP Nashville Meeting:  Planning for Action.  RSVP at the link.

Feb. 22. Collegedale. Chattanooga Area Lobbying 101. RSVP at the link.

Feb. 23. Murfreesboro. TEP Rutherford County Committee meeting.  RSVP at the link.

Feb. 27. Franklin. TEP Williamson County Committee meeting.  RSVP at the link.

March 7. Nashville. Advancing Equality Days on the Hill-Part 2. RSVP at the link.

March 9. Winchester. TEP Franklin-Coffee-Grundy-Marion Meeting. RSVP at the link.

April 4. Nashville.  Advancing Equality Days on the Hill-Part 2. RSVP at the link.

If you would like to support our work with a small monthly contribution, you can do so at this link.


Take preemptive action against 2 federal attacks on equality

It appears the attacks on equality are coming soon at the federal level.  We need you to speak out this week to defend equality before protections are taken away.  Given the speed at which the new Administration works, preemptive action now is wise.

1.  EEOC.  Word came last week that the EEOC may pull back from a job discrimination case filed by a transgender woman.  Contact the EEOC at info@eeoc.gov and urge the commissioners to continue pursuing cases of LGBT job discrimination.  Sign our petition here.  If it reaches 1000 signatures, we will deliver it to the Nashville EEOC office.

2. Turning a non-discrimination executive order into a pro-discrimination executive order.  Former President Obama issued an executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors.  Reports indicate that the current President is considering an executive order that would allow religious-based discrimination in many areas and it would also undo the existing contractor non-discrimination executive order.

UPDATE:  On Monday night, The New York Times is reporting that the Obama executive order protecting LGBT works will remain.  But there could still be an executive order allowing religious-based discrimination against LGBT people.  See the piece here.  So we should still contact the President.

If you are on Twitter, consider sending a Tweet like this:  @POTUS @realDonaldTrump : I oppose #LGBTQ #discrimination in executive orders.

You can use this form to contact the White House with the same message.  Note:  Because of the new "splash" page on the White House site, you may have to hunt for the contact form.  It can be found under the "PARTICIPATE" tab.

*For Tennessee residents, there is a survey on sexual orientation discrimination issues being conducted by a graduate student.  If you would like to participate, click here.
Thanks for all you do to advance equality.

Chris Sanders

Executive Director


Updated Activist Calendar--Clarksville and Sewanee events added

Updated Activist Calendar

Fighting back against discriminatory bills takes more than a one-time hit.  We have to sustain our opposition throughout the legislative session.  We have a strong program of events coming up in Memphis, Knoxville, Murfreesboro, Sewanee, Clarksville, and Nashville starting next week.  I hope that you'll join us for some of these events:

*January 17 in Murfreesboro.  Lobbying 101.  RSVP here.
*January 18 in Nashville.  Lobbying 101.  RSVP here.
*January 19 in Clarksville.  TEP Montgomery County Committee meeting.  RSVP here
*January 21 in Nashville.  "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" An East Nashville Revue of Elton John to Benefit Tennessee Equality Project.  RSVP here.
*January 24 in Memphis.  Lobbying 101.  RSVP here.
*January 26 in Knoxville.  Lobbying 101.  RSVP here
*February 2 in Sewanee.  TEP Franklin County Committee exploratory meeting.  RSVP here
*February 7 in Nashville.  Advancing Equality Days on the Hill Part 1.  RSVP here.
*February 19 in Memphis.  TEP Gumbo Contest.  RSVP here
*March 7 in Nashville.  Advancing Equality Days on the Hill Part 2.  RSVP here.
*April 4 in Nashville.  Advancing Equality Days on the Hill Part 3.  RSVP here

I am hopeful we will add February or March events in Franklin, Johnson City, and Chattanooga.  If you would like to help with scheduling events in those cities or others, be in touch at chris@tnequalityproject.com .

You can help support our legislative work with a small, monthly investment at this link or a one-time contribution at this link.

Thank you for all your support.

Chris Sanders

Executive Director


LGBT Erasure Bill filed in Tennessee

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As we reported at 4:00 p.m. Central Time in the Tennessee Equality Project Facebook group, thanks to a tip from a friend in the Tennessee House, Rep. John Ragan filed HB33 today.  The companion bill in the Senate is SB30 by Sen. Janice Bowling.

Here's what it does, according to the Legislature's website:

As introduced, requires that the words "husband," "wife," "mother," and "father" be given their natural and ordinary meaning, without forced or subtle construction that would limit or extend the meaning of the language and that are based on the biological distinctions between men and women, except when a contrary intention is clearly manifest. - Amends TCA Title 1, Chapter 3.

Such a bill would cause problems for same-sex parents, same-sex couples adopting children, and transgender and gender non-conforming people--basically anyone who doesn't fit more traditional meanings of husband, wife, mother, or father in a variety of situations in which the words are used in the law.  The bill at worst erases our community and at best makes life difficult as we attempt to live our true gender identities and have our family relationships recognized.

It is similar to a bill that was filed last year, but never really acted on. 

Many will remember Rep. Ragan's involvement in the last gasp of the Don't Say Gay bill a few years ago.  You can find articles on that here

Given the continuing wave of anti-LGBT legislation, we need your help now more than ever.  Please, consider attending one of the events at the link that includes Lobbying 101 sessions and Advancing Equality Days on the Hill. 

Also consider signing up to make a small monthly investment in TEP's work at this link.


January Middle Tennessee events

The first bill filed in the State Senate expands last year's counseling discrimination law. We are fortunate that Rep. John Ray Clemmons will be with us on January 12 to help us understand more.  Please, join us at 5:30 p.m. at Clyde's located at 1700 Church Street in Nashville to discuss it.  RSVP and learn more at the link.

Kroger Community Rewards:  Did you know that you can link your Kroger PLUS card to the Tennessee Equality Project Foundation?  You can at this link.  When you do, you fuel the work of equality in Tennessee.

More great events:  January is a busy month as we prepare for this important legislative session.  I hope we'll see you at some of these events.

*January 17 in Murfreesboro.  Lobbying 101.  RSVP here.
*January 18 in Nashville.  Lobbying 101.  RSVP here.
*January 21 in Nashville.  "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" An East Nashville Revue of Elton John to Benefit Tennessee Equality Project.  RSVP here.

Gratefully yours,

Chris Sanders

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The year they came for the LGBT community in TN--a look back at 2016

2016 was one of the toughest years for the LGBTQ community in Tennessee.  And we predicted it would be

Marriage resolutions:  The year began with a continuation of the battles of 2015.  From October 2015 through March 2016 battles raged across the state in county commission meetings over anti-marriage equality resolutions.  You can see the map at this link

State legislation:  What intensified the level of hostility was the Legislature's reaction to the Supreme Court's 2015 marriage ruling and growing bathroom controversies.  The result?  A record number of anti-LGBTQ bills filed.  You can see a list here.  Most of them didn't pass, of course.  But a few did.

There were also hate incidents just before and after the Election, as we note in the LGBTQ Open Letter

It has been a horrible year.  And yet our community endures and achieves victories. 

Generally speaking, we were able to win against anti-marriage equality resolutions around the state where we could draw larger numbers than our opposition--Blount, Knox, Washington, and Rutherford Counties, for example. 

And when you think about it, showing up in large numbers is one of the few factors we can really control.  We decide whether to show up individually and we decide whether to invite friends and family into the struggle. 

2017 promises to be another tough year and now we will no longer have any certain hope of help from the federal government. 

Will YOU show up?  Will you help us bring in more people to fight discrimination and advance equality?  Here's a calendar of events for the coming 3 months.  And here's a quick way for you to invest in our organizing work around the state.  Give $20.17 for a better 2017.

We remain grateful for all you do!

Chris Sanders

Executive Director



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