Virginia Leonard

  • signed NO to Adoption Discrimination in Congress 2018-07-17 19:47:05 -0500
    Virginia Leonard

    NO to Adoption Discrimination in Congress

    A foster care and adoption license to discriminate measure was recently put into a health and human services funding bill in the House Appropriations Committee.

    The “Aderholt Amendment” allows foster care and adoption service providers across the country to discriminate against children and prospective parents based on sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, and marital status.

    We need your help to tell Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker:  NO ADOPTION DISCRIMINATION in the 2019 Appropriations bill!  We will deliver hard copies to their offices.

    1,047 signatures

    Dear Senators Alexander and Corker:

    We urge you to act to oppose the Aderholt amendment allowing discrimination in foster care and adoption services in the FY19 House Labor-HHS appropriations bill and ensure that the measure is NOT included in any Senate or final appropriations bill.

    It would allow taxpayer-funded foster care and adoption service providers to discriminate against children in care and against prospective parents, based on sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, and marital status.

    The measure breaks the cardinal rule of child welfare services: to act in the best interest of the child. This amendment would actually HARM CHILDREN.

    This amendment would greatly harm the 440,000 children in foster care, particularly the 117,000 who are waiting to be adopted into loving, forever homes.  There is a crisis in foster care due to the huge shortage of available families for children. Each year, over half the children waiting to be adopted do not find a loving home, and most devastatingly, over 17,000 foster youth age out of care without a forever family.  Those youth are at greater risk of involvement with the criminal justice system, homelessness, unemployment, and being trafficked.

    Speak out against this poison pill amendment,; let your leadership know you will not support a funding bill with the measure included, and vote against any appropriations measure that includes such discriminatory provisions.  Thank you for considering our views.

    Add signature

  • Urge Senators Alexander and Corker to speak up for LGBTQ people when the next Supreme Court justice is appointed

    Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring so the President will name a successor who must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.  Sign to urge Senator Alexander and Senator Corker to speak up for the LGBTQ community during the confirmation process.  TEP will deliver a hard copy of the signatures to their offices.

    1,069 signatures

    Senator Alexander and Senator Corker:

    When the President announces his choice to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, we urge you to speak up for the rights of LGBTQ people.  It is vitally important that members of the Supreme Court support the principle of "equal protection" and that Justice Kennedy's successor uphold the existing rights of LGBTQ people and oppose discrimination against LGBTQ people.  We respectfully ask you to raise these concerns publicly and not to vote for any nominee who supports discrimination.

    Add signature

  • posted about Support the TEP Foundation's Work on Facebook 2017-12-22 16:53:13 -0600
    Make a year-end tax deductible contribution to the TEP Foundation to advance equality and inclusion in TN!

    Support the TEP Foundation's Work

    $3,850.00 raised
    GOAL: $6,000.00

    Please, considering making your tax deductible contribution to the TEP Foundation.  Your investment supports programs like Voter Registration Drives, Advocacy 101 training sessions around the state, Boro Pride in Murfreesboro that more than doubled its attendance this year, and Tennessee Open For Business that encourages an inclusive business environment in our state.  We are grateful for all your support.

    Donate

  • posted about Governor Haslam, Veto SB1085/HB1111 on Facebook 2017-04-28 06:01:09 -0500
    Sign the petition: Governor Haslam, Veto SB1085/HB1111

    Governor Haslam, Veto SB1085/HB1111

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    Add your name and urge Governor Haslam to veto SB1085/HB1111, the Sneaky LGBT Erasure Bill.  After you sign the petition, share it with your friends.  We will deliver a hard copy of the signatures to the Governor's Office.  Your voice can help determine whether he uses the VETO pen or the BECOMES LAW pen!

    5,718 signatures

    Dear Governor Haslam,

    We ask you to veto SB1085/HB1111.  This bill, as the Attorney General has noted, is broadly written.  Its vagueness could result in conflicts with existing laws about judicial interpretation.  These conflicts are likely to cause discrimination against LGBTQ people, particularly with respect to marriage, adoption, and legal documents.  This bill risks subjecting Tennessee to the same scrutiny that North Carolina has received.  We cannot afford hundreds of millions of dollars in economic boycotts and sanctions.  Please, veto this bill so we can avoid judicial chaos and costly discrimination.  Thank you for considering our views.

    Add signature

  • commented on Another bill to watch--the battle against social and emotional learning 2016-12-21 07:07:15 -0600
    We must remain vigilant!
  • posted about LGBTQ open letter to our fellow Tennesseans on Facebook 2016-12-18 09:38:54 -0600
    Sign the petition: LGBTQ open letter to our fellow Tennesseans

    LGBTQ open letter to our fellow Tennesseans

    663 signatures

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    An open letter from Tennessee's LGBTQ community to our fellow Tennesseans

     

    As members of the LGBTQ community, we write to our fellow Tennesseans a month after the election and a month before the upcoming state legislative session.

     

    In recent weeks members of our community have experienced grave assaults on our safety and dignity.  A gay, gender nonconforming man was murdered.  A transgender woman’s car was burned. The signs and doors of a church that affirms our community have been vandalized.  A gay couple received a package with a knife sticking out and a message attached urging them to leave the state. 

     

    These attacks upon individuals and institutions have put our lives and safety at even greater risk than usual.  They contravene the welcoming traditions of hospitality for which Tennessee is known.  

     

    The time we have entered is critical.  Many are calling for healing in the wake of a divisive election. Healing is difficult while fresh wounds are being inflicted such as discriminatory state legislation.

     

    So we are speaking out for our safety, dignity, and equal rights under the law.

     

    Our struggle is not against your values, unless you value discrimination.  LGBTQ Tennesseans are your neighbors, your family members, your health care providers, firefighters, grocery clerks, teachers, elected officials, and we fill many other roles vital to the life of small towns and large cities.  Many of us grew up and continue to be active in the same faith communities as you.  

     

    In the long story of our community’s struggles, we have relied on our own strength to sustain us.  We have also experienced the joy of  working with countless allies.  Now is a time for allies to speak out with us and we  invite people of good will throughout the state to build a stronger, inclusive, welcoming Tennessee to meet our state’s common challenges together.

    If you share these values and priorities, we invite you to add your name to this letter.

    Add signature

  • posted about National Coming Out Day Challenge on Facebook 2016-10-12 15:23:56 -0500
    Help us meet the National Coming Out Day challenge!

    National Coming Out Day Challenge

    $2,170.00 raised
    GOAL: $2,000.00

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    An anonymous donor has offered us a $2000 challenge.  Make your tax deductible investment in any amount to help us meet the challenge for National Coming Out Day.  We will run the challenge until October 18. 

    Regardless of whether you can give, consider posting a National Coming Out Day video and tag us on Facebook or on Twitter.  Let's show Tennessee the vibrancy and diversity of our community and allies.

    Your contribution helps fund educational programs around the state.  For example, in November we are offering training sessions for clergy throughout Tennessee to help them advocate more effectively for the LGBT community.

    Donate

  • posted about Give OUT Days in Tennessee on Facebook 2016-05-22 13:08:11 -0500
    Give OUT Days are here. Invest in equality in Tennessee!

    Give OUT Days in Tennessee

    $880.00 raised
    GOAL: $3,000.00

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    The TEP Foundation is celebrating Give OUT Days NOW through 11:00 p.m. Central Time on May 20.  Make YOUR tax deductible investment in our programs that advance equality and inclusion and fight discrimination.  We are grateful for your support.

    Donate

  • No special legislative session for bathroom discrimination!

    On the evening of May 17, The Tennessean and The Commercial Appeal reported that legislators are considering a special legislative session to take up a new effort to pass a statewide anti-transgender bathroom discrimination law.  Sign YOUR name to the statement below and we'll deliver your signatures to legislative leaders:

    1,074 signatures

    Dear Speaker Ramsey and Speaker Harwell:

    We oppose a special legislative session to consider an anti-transgender bathroom discrimination law.  It is never justified to spend the state's time and money to advance discrimination.  Thank you for considering our views.

    Add signature

  • signed No Discrimination in Federal Contracts! 2016-05-08 13:12:35 -0500
    Stop the madness!

    No Discrimination in Federal Contracts!

    In late April the U.S. House Armed Services Committee voted to undo President Obama's non-discrimination executive orders for federal contracts via the Russell amendment.  This amendment is part of the National Defense Authorization Act. 

    Removal of the President's executive orders on non-discrimination would be a disaster for LGBT people in states like Tennessee that lack employment protections covering sexual orientation and gender identity. 

    Please, sign this petition to Tennessee's two U.S. Senators and nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives and we will make sure copies are sent to their offices.

    554 signatures

    Dear Senators Alexander and Corker and Representatives Roe, Duncan, Fleischmann, Desjarlais, Cooper, Black, Blackburn, Fincher, and Cohen:

    We oppose the Russell amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act and similar efforts to reverse President Obama's executive orders on employment non-discrimination for federal contractors.  Protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is important to Tennesseans.  Thank you for considering our views.

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  • signed Tennessee Loves Target 2016-05-04 19:55:37 -0500

    Tennessee Loves Target

    ellyahnnaTarget.jpgTarget's trans-inclusive policies are under attack in Tennessee.  A Mt Juliet pastor's rant went viral and this week at a Hendersonville Target, protesters shouted religious wrath at employees and customers.  But we know that Tennessee loves Target and it's time to show it!

    As former TEP Board member Ellyahnna Hall (pictured) notes:  

    "I support Target for trying to provide a safe space for all people. I'm a trans woman and I've faced the dangers of not having access to restrooms that corespond to my gender identity. If opponents are really concerned with safety then let's focus on tougher rape laws and enforcing those, not creating a fake danger that doesn't exist."

    Sign the petition statement and show Target some love.  We'll deliver hard copies of the petition to select Target locations in Tennessee.


                                

    1,050 signatures

    Tennessee loves Target.  I support the company's transgender-inclusive policies and I will continue to shop at their stores.                                               

     

     

    Add signature

  • endorsed 2016-04-27 14:08:32 -0500

    I asked Governor Haslam to veto HB1840, the counseling discrimination bill

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    Take a minute to contact Governor Bill Haslam by phone message or on Twitter and then let us know you did it using this form.  Let's get to 500 or more!

    I called or Tweeted Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and urged him to veto HB1840, the counseling discrimination bill.  I'm asking you to do the same this week.

    Endorse

  • posted about Defend Diversity at UT-Knoxville: Veto SB1912 on Facebook 2016-04-25 13:43:24 -0500
    Sign the petition: Defend Diversity at UT-Knoxville: Veto SB1912

    Defend Diversity at UT-Knoxville: Veto SB1912

    The Legislature passed SB1912/HB2248 that removes funding from the Office for Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.  Sign this petition that we will deliver to Governor Haslam asking him to veto the bill.

    2,096 signatures

    Governor Haslam, we call on you to veto SB1912/HB2248 and protect the University of Tennessee-Knoxville's Office for Diversity and Inclusion.  The office plays a vital role in making the university competitive for the best students, faculty, and staff and it makes campus life welcoming for all.  Thank you for considering our views.

    Add signature

  • endorsed 2016-04-21 09:32:07 -0500

    Stop using religion to discriminate in Tennessee

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    On April 18, 2016 about 30 pastors shamefully stood in Legislative Plaza and spoke in favor of the anti-transgender student bathroom bill.  And religion was used to advance the counseling discrimination bill.  Many more clergy across Tennessee publicly opposed both bills.

    Whether you're religious or not, aren't you tired of religion being used to support discrimination in our laws?  If so, endorse this statement:

    We oppose the use of religion to justify discrimination in Tennessee law.  To use religion to divide us in our public life violates the spirit of the U.S. and Tennessee Constitutions, does harm to the people of Tennessee, and brings scandal to religion.

    Endorse

  • posted about Governor Haslam, Keep listening and oppose HB2414 on Facebook 2016-04-17 09:26:15 -0500
    Sign the petition: Governor Haslam, Keep listening and oppose HB2414. Will you help us get more signatures?

    Governor Haslam, Keep listening and oppose HB2414

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    Sign this NEW petition urging Governor Bill Haslam to keep listening to the voices opposed to the anti-transgender student bathroom bill!

    1,533 signatures

    Governor Haslam, please continue to oppose HB2414 and listen to the voices of transgender students and the business community speaking out against the bill.  Thank you for considering our views.

    Add signature

  • posted about VETO Hate Bill 1840, the Counseling Discrimination bill on Facebook 2016-04-07 09:25:25 -0500
    Sign the petition: VETO Hate Bill 1840, the Counseling Discrimination bill

    VETO Hate Bill 1840, the Counseling Discrimination bill

     

    Please, add your voice and urge Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to veto this discriminatory bill.

    4,239 signatures

    Dear Governor Haslam,

    We urge you to veto HB1840, which allows counselors to turn away clients based on the counselor's biases and values.  This bill puts the focus on the desires of counselors rather than on the needs of clients, damaging the counseling profession and putting clients at risk. 

    An anti-bullying amendment was stripped from the bill in the House Health Committee leaving youth vulnerable in areas where mental health services are not widely available.

    Thank you for considering our views.

    Add signature

  • Governor Haslam, Fight for trans students and against SB2387/HB2414

    Please, join us in encouraging Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to fight against this attack on transgender students.

    985 signatures

    Dear Governor Haslam,

    We call on you to do everything in your power to lobby against passage of SB2387/HB2414, the anti-transgender student bathroom bill.  We also ask that you VETO the bill if it reaches your desk. 

    The bill endangers vulnerable students and it risks significant U.S. Department of Education funds to Tennessee.  If this bill became law, the enforcement would be a nightmare for school districts across the state. 

    Show the world that Tennessee is a welcoming state.  Thank you for considering our views.

    Add signature

  • endorsed 2016-01-22 19:04:04 -0600

    The People's Resolution Opposing Tennessee House Joint Resolution 529 on Marriage Equality

    Sign on as a co-sponsor of the People's Resolution Opposing Tennessee House Joint Resolution 529 on Marriage Equality.

    WHEREAS, Rep.  Susan Lynn has introduced a resolution urging the members of the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee to express their disagreement with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges; and

    WHEREAS, the Tennessee Constitution affirms "That the citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble together, for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances or other proper purposes, by address or remonstrance;" and

    WHEREAS, the State of Tennessee ought to be focused on the legal equality of all its people rather than attacking the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community; and

    WHEREAS, "the equal protection of the laws" is a cherished principle in American jurisprudence; now, therefore,

    BE IT RESOLVED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, that we oppose House Joint Resolution 529 and urge the members of the 109th General Assembly of the State of Tennessee to uphold the entire Constitution of the United States, including the Fourteenth Amendment, and cease their legislative attacks on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

    Endorse

  • posted about Operation Sentinel: Volunteers monitoring discrimination in local governments across Tennessee on Facebook 2015-10-25 05:19:05 -0500
    I signed up to volunteer to monitor discrimination in local government for Tennessee Equality Project. Join me!

    Operation Sentinel: Volunteers monitoring discrimination in local governments across Tennessee

    With the recent passage of the Johnson County, McMinn County, Morgan County, and Greene County resolutions calling for the General Assembly to fight marriage equality, we need volunteers across the state to monitor discriminatory measures and actions in their local government.  Sign up to monitor one or more county governments.  It doesn't have to be the county in which you live.  After you sign up, we will contact you asking which county or counties you wish to cover.  We will hold a conference call with volunteers in the coming weeks to prepare you for this task and show you what to do. 

    When we monitor local government, we can more effectively organize against discrimination. 

    Note:  There is no need to sign up for Shelby, Davidson (Metro Nashville), Knox, or Blount Counties since these counties are already heavily monitored.

    Become a volunteer

  • endorsed 2015-08-18 05:59:38 -0500

    Updated with response: Stand against the hate of Minister Ben Bailey of the Central Church of Christ in McMinnville

    UPDATE:  Minister Ben Bailey of the Central Church of Christ called us this morning and talked about his views.  He is not pro-equality, but he wants to make absolutely clear that he does NOT support the stoning of LGBT people.  You can read his response at the link

    The New Civil Rights Movement has reported on the teachings of Minister Ben Bailey of the Central Church of Christ in McMinnville in which the pastor tries to justify the stoning of LGBT people as biblical. 

    People of faith and people of no particular faith alike reject the dangerous extremism of Pastor Bailey.  At a time when hate crimes are up against LGBT people in Tennessee and at a time when the nationwide murders of transgender people in particular have reached crisis levels, such hate has no rightful place in religion or in civil society. 

    Despite the pastor's notoriety, hate will NOT define McMinnville or the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee.  We were in McMinnville recently for the Summer of Love tour with a strong showing of equality advocates.  Read the report if you doubt there are many great people in the area living their hopes for full equality.  Upper Cumberland Pride, which serves the region, is an organization that is growing again and now reunited to TEP.  We know they will continue to raise awareness for the safety and equality of LGBT people in the area.

    We urge people of good will across the state and nation to stand with those in McMinnville and the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee and against the hateful rhetoric of Pastor Bailey.  Add your name as a show of solidarity!

    Endorse

Married 25 years, mom of 2 boys, writer, professional rabble-rouser, lesbian, lover of bourbon/whiskey and margaritas.
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