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.
Jason Smith signed No special legislative session for bathroom discrimination! 2016-05-21 21:04:26 -0500No hate in our state
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.
Jason Smith signed No Discrimination in Federal Contracts! 2016-05-08 11:58:53 -0500No hate or be voted out
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.
Target'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.
Tennessee loves Target. I support the company's transgender-inclusive policies and I will continue to shop at their stores.
Jason Smith signed Defend Diversity at UT-Knoxville: Veto SB1912 2016-05-01 08:07:01 -0500No place for hate
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.
Jason Smith endorsed 2016-04-20 03:57:50 -0500We are better then this stop the hate
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
Jason Smith signed Governor Haslam, Keep listening and oppose HB2414 2016-04-15 11:16:56 -0500We don’t need hate in our state
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.
Jason Smith donated via 2016-04-12 03:56:24 -0500$3,006.00 raisedGOAL: $3,000.00
Moving the Message--it's a critical part of fighting back against hateful legislation in Tennessee. When we reach more people, more voices rise against discrimination. That means we have a fighting chance of winning.
Help TEP invest in new communication tools to bring more allies into the fight so we can win more battles!
Let's see how much we can raise by April 15.Donate
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
Jason Smith endorsed 2016-04-10 08:15:25 -0500No hate in this state against anyone
The response to discriminatory laws in Indiana, North Carolina, and Mississippi makes it clear that everyone is affected. So we all have a role to play in making sure that Tennessee is able to attract good jobs and keep our economy open for business. That includes conservatives, independents, and business people, too. Please, endorse Keep Tennessee Open For Business. Use your voice and your influence to speak out for a prosperous Tennessee.
Economic opportunity allows individuals to live up to their potential and keeps families strong. Discriminatory laws in other states have resulted in billions of dollars of losses because of boycotts and companies reconsidering their investments . Tennessee cannot afford to go down that road. Legislation like HB1840, which allows counselors to discriminate, and HB2414, which micromanages which bathrooms students are allowed to use, risks Tennessee's prosperity.
I endorse Keep Tennessee Open For Business to say that I stand for economic opportunity for our state and against discriminatory legislation that poses a threat to our future.Endorse
Jason Smith signed VETO Hate Bill 1840, the Counseling Discrimination bill 2016-04-08 15:40:36 -0500No hate in this state
Please, add your voice and urge Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to veto this discriminatory bill.4,235 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.
Jason Smith signed Governor Haslam, Fight for trans students and against SB2387/HB2414 2016-04-12 03:56:55 -0500No hate in this state
Please, join us in encouraging Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to fight against this attack on transgender students.965 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.
Jason Smith endorsed 2016-02-07 17:32:52 -0600You took a oath for all the people not some if you can’t be for everyone you need to get out of public office
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
Jason Smith wants to volunteer 2015-07-28 11:48:31 -0500
TEP needs volunteers throughout the year. Please, fill out this form or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Thank you!Become a volunteer
Jason Smith endorsed 2015-05-04 04:20:06 -0500
MARRIAGE PLUS PLEDGE
I pledge to continue to work for fullEndorse
legal and lived equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender
people in Tennessee after we achieve marriage equality.
I recognize that we have more work to do on job discrimination, public
accommodations discrimination, housing discrimination, safe
schools/anti-bullying, bisexual erasure and visibility, health disparities,
domestic violence, senior care, HIV/AIDS, hate crimes, documents for
transgender people, and other issues.
Cassie Hopkins, a young bisexual woman, had volunteered at Yoke Youth Ministries in Jefferson County. The program is interdenominational and draws on the work of young adults to mentor middle-school students. She had gone through the screening process and there were no complaints about her work as a volunteer. After disclosing her sexual orientation on Facebook, her supervisor told her that she would no longer be allowed to volunteer, even though there is nothing in Yoke's written policies about sexual orientation. Her supervisor compared bisexuality to alcoholism and drug addiction.
Let's show support for Cassie and remind our fellow Tennesseans and especially Yoke that people can serve and contribute to enriching the lives of youth in our state regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a message Yoke and many others need to hear. Please, add your voice.
We are glad to partner with the LGBT Alumni of Carson-Newman on this project. They first brought the case to our attention.
Note: We are not arguing about whether anyone has the legal ability to discriminate in Tennessee. What we are contesting is whether it is right to exclude talented people from helping youth simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Learn more about the issue and consider signing the petition to add your voice to this call to action.87 signatures
This week the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is holding a conference in Nashville on marriage, sexuality, and gender. Add your voice to urge them to consider the impact of their teachings on violence against LGBT people and LGBT youth homelessness. According to national estimates, up to 40% of the youth homeless population is LGBT. Many of those youth were turned out of their homes because of certain kinds of religious bias. We believe that rather than holding conferences on how to preserve marriage discrimination, the Southern Baptist Convention's leadership should begin to address the ways in which their teachings contribute to harms to LGBT people.
TEP joined OutCentral and Vanderbilt Divinity School in organizing a protest of the event outside the Opryland Hotel. TTPC and PFLAG also participated. Your voice can help highlight needed changes in the Southern Baptist Convention's approach.