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.
$9,205.00 raisedGOAL: $10,000.00
Help us celebrate 12 years of the Tennessee Equality Project with YOUR tax deductible investment in the work of advancing equality. We've seen so many gains over the years and yet the attacks are intensifying against Tennessee's LGBT community. Your support fuels the fight and we are grateful for your contribution!
Chris Sanders signed Give Nashville businesses a gender-neutral bathroom option 2016-06-03 09:59:33 -0500This is a great piece of legislation for our city—pro-business and pro-customer!
In April the owners of the Wild Cow and Graze restaurants added gender-neutral signs to their single occupancy restrooms, but they were later told that this move meant they were no longer in compliance with the Metro code. They made the move to serve their customers and employees and to protest the Legislature's bathroom bill that was pending at the time. You can read about the background here.
Metro Nashville Councilman Brett Withers has filed a bill allowing businesses the option of gender-neutral bathrooms. You can read the bill at this link. The bill is up for second of three readings on June 7 at the 6:30 Metro Council meeting in the Metro Courthouse.
Sign the petition to show your support.150 signatures
We ask that the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County adopt BL2016-238 by Councilman Brett Withers and give Nashville businesses a gender-neutral bathroom option. This bill comes at the request of a local business and it is the right legislation for customers and employees. Thank you for considering our views.
Chris Sanders posted about Give OUT Days in Tennessee on Facebook 2016-05-19 00:38:59 -0500Give OUT Days are here. Invest in equality in Tennessee!$880.00 raisedGOAL: $3,000.00
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
Chris Sanders signed No special legislative session for bathroom discrimination! 2016-05-17 21:46:35 -0500The effort is harmful and a waste of time!
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:1,073 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.
Chris Sanders signed No Discrimination in Federal Contracts! 2016-05-07 12:14:28 -0500Let’s not reverse the progress we’ve made!
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.
Chris Sanders signed Tennessee Loves Target 2016-05-02 09:03:39 -0500It’s great to have a company like this with a strong presence in Tennessee leading the way.
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.
Chris Sanders endorsed 2016-04-29 15:56:09 -0500This issue is vital to future of the University and to our state.
Please, take action about Senate Bill 1912 that defunds the University of Tennessee-Knoxville's Office for Diversity and Inclusion.
Call Governor Haslam at 615-741-2001 and ask him to Veto Senate Bill 1912 and defend diversity. It's fine to leave a message.
Tweet him @BillHaslam with #VetoSB1912 .
When you have called or tweeted, let us know you did it with this form. NOTE: You don't have to live in Tennessee to participate.Endorse
Chris Sanders signed Defend Diversity at UT-Knoxville: Veto SB1912 2016-04-21 20:54:37 -0500The diversity efforts at UT-Knoxville deserve our support.
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.2,097 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.
Chris Sanders endorsed 2016-04-18 22:40:18 -0500I’m definitely tired of this trend.
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
Chris Sanders signed Governor Haslam, Keep listening and oppose HB2414 2016-04-14 12:30:53 -0500There are many voices that the Governor needs to hear.
Sign this NEW petition urging Governor Bill Haslam to keep listening to the voices opposed to the anti-transgender student bathroom bill!1,534 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.
Chris Sanders endorsed 2016-04-12 01:53:52 -0500It’s important to raise the volume on this issue.
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
Chris Sanders endorsed 2016-04-10 02:33:14 -0500
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
Chris Sanders signed VETO Hate Bill 1840, the Counseling Discrimination bill 2016-04-05 23:32:25 -0500No one really benefits from this bill and it sets a dangerous precedent for all health providers.
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.
Chris Sanders signed Governor Haslam, Fight for trans students and against SB2387/HB2414 2016-03-21 04:23:51 -0500Please, keep fighting the bill, Governor. We need your support like never before.
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.
Chris Sanders endorsed 2016-01-22 14:55:18 -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
Chris Sanders signed Dickson County Commission: Vote NO on anti-marriage equality resolution 2016-01-13 14:14:34 -0600242 signatures
We call on the members of the Dickson County Commission to vote NO on the so-called "states rights" anti-marriage equality resolution up for consideration on January 19. Dickson County government should not divide the county and attack its residents.