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.
Christy Cowan donated 2016-10-12 16:50:08 -0500$2,170.00 raisedGOAL: $2,000.00
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
Christy Cowan donated 2016-06-29 11:14:46 -0500$2,830.00 raisedGOAL: $1,000.00
Two of TEP's founders--Jim Schmidt and Joe Woolley--have issued a challenge to our members. They are matching the first $1000 in tax deductible donations to the TEP Foundation. So that means that your contribution will be doubled! We are grateful for the commitment that Joe and Jim have made over the years to TEP and their ongoing leadership in many organizations that benefit Tennessee's LGBT community such as the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Victory Fund.
We hope you will join them in investing in our work this week. Note: We will let Jim and Joe know that you have made a contribution in their honor if you participate. Thank you!
Christy Cowan signed No special legislative session for bathroom discrimination! 2016-05-19 14:13:08 -0500
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.
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.
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.
Christy Cowan endorsed 2016-04-18 23:16:55 -0500
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
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.
Christy Cowan endorsed 2016-04-12 07:00:06 -0500
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
Christy Cowan signed VETO Hate Bill 1840, the Counseling Discrimination bill 2016-04-08 18:12:09 -0500Christy Cowan
Please, add your voice and urge Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to veto this discriminatory bill.4,232 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.
Christy Cowan donated 2016-03-23 23:19:11 -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
Christy Cowan signed Governor Haslam, Fight for trans students and against SB2387/HB2414 2016-03-27 18:51:33 -0500Please don’t sign this bill if it comes to your desk, Governor Haslam. Tennessee is the Volunteer State for a reason; we don’t need this unnecessary legislation to send a terrible message to our citizens.
Thank you for your consideration.
Please, join us in encouraging Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to fight against this attack on transgender students.962 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.
Christy Cowan endorsed 2016-01-22 18:32:34 -0600
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
Christy Cowan wants to volunteer 2015-10-22 09:54:29 -0500With 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
Christy Cowan donated 2017-02-11 08:46:41 -0600
As a supporter of Tennessee Equality Project, your contribution funds the advancement of policies through direct and grass roots lobbying which protect the rights of LGBT people and their families here at home in Tennessee. Give monthly, choose to give a one-time donation within one of these giving circles described below or become a basic member. Contributions to TEP (a 501(c)(4) organization) are not tax deductible.
If you prefer to make a one-time donation to Tennessee Equality Project, click here.
If you would prefer to make a tax-deductible contribution to Tennessee Equality Project Foundation, click here.
Click here to see who is supporting the work of equality in Tennessee.
Circle Amount Benefits
Free admission to TEP events statewide; 4 Olympus tickets; Invitation to Executive Director’s Legislative Briefing Reception and access to VIP Lounge at Advancing Equality Day on the Hill; TEP T-Shirt; TEP Car Window Decal; TEP Newsletter. Giving Circle members and members of their household may vote for Board Members at Annual Meetings.
3 Olympus tickets; Invitation to Executive Director’s Legislative Briefing Reception and access to VIP Lounge at Advancing Equality Day on the Hill. TEP T-Shirt; TEP Car Window Decal; TEP Newsletter. Giving Circle members and members of their household may vote for Board Members at Annual Meetings.
2 Olympus tickets; Invitation to Executive Director’s Legislative Briefing Reception and access to VIP Lounge at Advancing Equality Day on the Hill; TEP T-Shirt; TEP Car Window Decal; TEP Newsletter. Giving Circle members and members of their household may vote for Board Members at Annual Meetings.
$25/month($300/year) 1 Olympus tickets; TEP T-Shirt; TEP Car Window Decal; TEP Newsletter. Giving Circle members and members of their household may vote for Board Members at Annual Meetings.
TEP T-Shirt; TEP Car Window Decal; TEP Newsletter. Giving Circle members and members of their household may vote for Board Members at Annual Meetings.
TEP Car Window Decal; TEP Newsletter. Giving Circle members and members of their household may vote for Board Members at Annual Meetings.
Other Giving Options
Some supporters prefer to write a check or make monthly donations to Tennessee Equality Project through automatic bank drafts. Consider creating “Tennessee Equality Project” as a regular payee with your bank’s online service.
Checks and automated bank drafts may be mailed to the following address:
Tennessee Equality Project | P.O. Box 330895 | Nashville, TN 37203
Thank you for supporting Tennessee Equality Project.Donate
Christy Cowan endorsed 2015-07-03 16:24:48 -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.