Tennessee Clergy Opposed to the 2019 Slate of Hate

Members of the clergy residing in Tennessee endorse the following statement about anti-LGBTQ bills in the Tennessee General Assembly:

"As leaders of faith communities we oppose these bills in the Tennessee General Assembly. They promote discrimination rather than justice and demean the worth of LGBTQ people in our state.  We call on people of good will to join us in speaking out for basic fairness."

The bills are:

SB848/HB1152 by Sen. Hensley and Rep. Ragan and SB1304/HB836 by Sen. Pody and Rep. Rudd.   These bills promote state-sanctioned discrimination by private adoption agencies against prospective parents on the basis of religious and moral objection.

SB364/HB563 by Sen. Gardenhire and Rep. Zachary.  The Business License to Discriminate bill.  The bill casts businesses rather than the LGBTQ community as possible victims of discrimination and opens the door to taxpayer funded discrimination.

SB1297/HB1151 by Sen. Pody and Rep. Ragan.  While the bill seems to be about indecent exposure, it is a devious attempt to criminalize transgender and gender nonconforming people in restrooms and locker rooms.

SB1499/HB1274 by Sen. Hensley and Rep. Holt. This bill requires the Attorney General to defend school districts that engage in anti-transgender bathroom discrimination.  

SB1282/HB1369 by Sen. Pody and Rep. J. Sexton.  The Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act is an attack on marriage equality.

Clergy wishing to sign should send an email with their name AND city of residence to info@tnep.org .

Rev. John Feldhacker, Nashville

Rev. Viki Matson, Nashville

Rev. Robert L. Early (ret.), Nashville

Rabbi Philip "Flip" Rice, Brentwood

Rev. Janet Wolf, Nashville

Pastor Greg Bullard, Madison

Rev. David E. McIntyre (ret.), Normandy

Rev. Wolf Cole, Savannah

Rev. Dr. Mary Louise McCullough, Nashville

Rev. Dr. Gordon D. Gibson, Knoxville

Rev. Jeff Briere, Johnson City

Rev. Susan Gardner (ret.), Hermitage

Rev. Cynthia Andrews-Looper, Gallatin

Rev. Brandon Gilvin, Chattanooga

Rev. William H. Berger, Franklin

Rev. Elaine Blanchard, Memphis

Rev. Tim Bath, Murfreesboro

Rev. April Baker, Nashville

Rev. Deborah Lynn, Nashville

Rev. Laura Bogle, Knoxville

Rev. Robert B. Coleman, Nashville

Rev. John Gill, Knoxville

Rev. Laura Becker, Chattanooga

Rev. Randy Shoun, Knoxville

Rev. Steve Wolf, Clarksville

Rev. Judi Hoffman, Nashville

Bishop Melvin G. Talbert (ret.), Hermitage

Rev. Theodore McKnight (ret.), Pleasant Hill

Rev. Dr. Brice Thomas, Nashville

Rev. Anne-Marie Zanzal, Nashville

Rev. Dr. Clay Thomas, Chattanooga

Rev. Paul Slentz, Nashville

Rev. RJ Powell, Knoxville

Rev. Carolyn Smith Goings, Ph.D., Dyersburg

Rev. Pamela Hawkins, Nashville

Rev. Diana L. Hynson, Nashville

Rev. Adam Kelchner, Franklin

Elder Blake Smith, Nashville

Min. Dahron Johnson, Nashville

Rabbi Joshua Kullock, Nashville

Rev. Mark C. Pafford, Smithville

Rev. James Bowman Harris, Cookeville


Tennessee's 2019 Slate of Hate: Anti-LGBTQ bills in the General Assembly

Tennessee is consistently one of the top states for anti-LGBTQ legislation introduced every year.  2019 is no exception.  Here is a list of bills to watch.

SB848/HB1152 by Sen. Hensley and Rep. Ragan.  This bills protects private adoption agencies that discriminate against prospective parents based on the religious or moral views of the agency.

SB1304/HB836 by Sen. Pody and Rep. Rudd.  This bill is similar to the previous bill. 

SB364/HB563 by Sen. Gardenhire and Rep. Zachary.  The Business License to Discriminate bill.  The bill casts businesses rather than the LGBTQ community as possible victims of discrimination.  Government would not be able to disadvantage businesses in public contracts or grants if the internal policies of the business or nonprofit are discriminatory.  In other words, it opens the door to taxpayer funded discrimination.

SB1297/HB1151 by Sen. Pody and Rep. Ragan.  On its face, this bill seems to be about indecent exposure.  But it is a way of criminalizing trans and nonbinary people in restrooms and locker rooms. 

SB1499/HB1274 by Sen. Hensley and Rep. Holt. This bill is similar to a bill last year that required the Attorney General to defend school districts that engage in anti-transgender bathroom discrimination.  

SB1282/HB1369 by Sen. Pody and Rep. J. Sexton.  The Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act is back.  Earlier in the week, we saw evidence in the Cordell Hull Building that such a bill was being considered. 

What to do:

Watch for social media and email alerts from TEP for specific action to take as the bills are moving through committee.

Consider attending the next Advancing Equality Day on the Hill on March 5.  Email us at info@tnep.org if you want to attend or serve as a district captain.

Make a contribution to support our work.  Professional lobbying and organizing to produce a coordinated effort is not free.  Help us  fight back.

 

 


New adoption discrimination bill filed in Tennessee. Take action

Rep. Tim Rudd has filed a new bill protecting private adoption agencies, allowing them to turn away prospective parents based on the religious beliefs of the adoption agencies.  HB836 is similar to bills that have passed in Kansas and Oklahoma.

The Human Rights Campaign and other organizations will join TEP in opposing this discriminatory legislation that does not put the interests of children first.

Take action and call on Rep. Rudd to withdraw the bill using the form at this link.


Business License to Discriminate Bill is back

SB364/HB563, known as the Business License to Discriminate Bill, is back.  The bill previously passed the Tennessee Senate in 2017, but it didn't move in the Tennessee House last year. 

The bill automatically raises suspicions because it shows concerns about businesses being "discriminated" against by government, rather than the real discrimination endured by LGBTQ people.  The bill opens the door to taxpayer funded discrimination against real people.  If, for example, a business has a policy of not treating married same-gender couples the same as different-gender couples, government could not refuse to contract with them solely on that basis.

Equality advocates will be on the Hill on Feb. 5 working against the bill. 

If you would like to support TEP's work, you can make a contribution at this link.


The crucial difference about the new legislative session and what you can do

The upcoming state legislative session is really going to be different from the recent past.  Why?  Not only are most of the leadership positions in new hands, but about 1/4 of the members of the Tennessee General Assembly are new.

Why does that matter?  It matters because many of them have probably never had a substantive conversation about LGBTQ public policy.  They may know LGBTQ people and they may have read about the issues our community faces, but they have probably not sat down and talked in depth about legislation that could help or hurt our community.

So we have a major opportunity to shape their understandings.  We need your help for that.  Please, attend an Advocacy 101 session near you.  Those are listed below.  Think about becoming a district captain for one of the Advancing Equality Days on the Hill.  Those are also listed below.  If interested, email us at info@tnep.org .  And make your year-end contribution to the TEP Foundation at this link.  Your contribution makes it possible for us to train and prepare advocates to talk with legislators about these vital LGBTQ public policy issues.

January 8:  Murfreesboro Advocacy 101

January 12:  Nashville Advocacy 101

January 15:  Lunch orientation to the Cordell Hull Building

January 26:  Cookeville Advocacy 101

January 28:  Memphis Advocacy 101

January 30:  Knoxville Advocacy 101

February 5:  Advancing Equality Days on the Hill--Part 1

March 5:  Advancing Equality Days on the Hill--Part 2

April 2:  Advancing Equality Days on the Hill--Part 3

Gratefully yours,

Chris Sanders

Executive Director


Updated Advocacy Opportunities with TEP

Here is an updated list of advocacy opportunities in the new year. 

Attend Orientation:  On January 15, we will have an orientation to the Cordell Hull Building in Nashville where legislative offices and committee rooms are located.  This orientation is ideal for beginners.  RSVP at the link.

Days on the Hill:  Plan now to make the trip to Nashville at least once during the legislative session to speak in person with your legislators.  We have three Advancing Equality Days on the Hill.  Here are the dates and links so you can learn more:

Part 1 on February 5

Part 2 on March 5

Part 3 on April 2

If you are interested in being a district captain, which is a lead position for meetings with legislators, be in touch at info@tnep.org .

Postcard Writing:  Prior to Advancing Equality Days on the Hill, we will attempt to hold postcard writing events on LGBTQ-related bills.  The first Nashville event is Feb. 3 at Tribe.  RSVP at this link.  We are working on an event to be scheduled in Knoxville.

Advocacy 101 Sessions:  We are planning these around the state, but if you want to help bring this preparatory class to your region, contact us at info@tnep.org.   The Murfreesboro session is January 8.  RSVP at this link.  The Nashville session is January 12.  RSVP at this link.  The Memphis session is January 28. RSVP at this link.  The Morristown session is tentatively January 21.  We will update you as we have more information.

Contribute:  Another way to help is to make a financial contribution so we can continue to invest in expert lobbying and the contact management systems that allow us to fight for equality in a professional and effective manner.

We are grateful for all your support, which grows the movement.


Preparing for the 111th Tennessee General Assembly

Tennessee Equality Project has been preparing for the 111th General Assembly of the State of Tennessee that convenes at Noon on January 8. 

We need your help to complete our preparations.  Here is what you can do.

Attend Orientation:  On January 15, we will have an orientation to the Cordell Hull Building in Nashville where legislative offices and committee rooms are located.  This orientation is ideal for beginners.  RSVP at the link.

Days on the Hill:  Plan now to make the trip to Nashville at least once during the legislative session to speak in person with your legislators.  We have three Advancing Equality Days on the Hill.  Here are the dates and links so you can learn more:

Part 1 on February 5

Part 2 on March 5

Part 3 on April 2

If you are interested in being a district captain, which is a lead position for meetings with legislators, be in touch at info@tnep.org .

Postcard Writing:  Prior to Advancing Equality Days on the Hill, we will attempt to hold postcard writing events on LGBTQ-related bills.  The first Nashville event is Feb. 3 at Tribe.  RSVP at this link.

Advocacy 101 Sessions:  We are planning these around the state, but if you want to help bring this preparatory class to your region, contact us at info@tnep.org.   The Murfreesboro session is January 8.  RSVP at this link.  The Nashville session is January 12.  RSVP at this link.  The Memphis session is January 28. RSVP at this link.  The Morristown session is tentatively January 21.  We will update you as we have more information.

Retired Persons in Middle Tennessee:  Retired persons can play a special role in the upcoming legislative session by helping when LGBTQ-related bills come up in committee.  We have an orientation for you on December 4. RSVP at this link

Contribute:  Another way to help is to make a financial contribution so we can continue to invest in expert lobbying and the contact management systems that allow us to fight for equality in a professional and effective manner.

We are grateful for all your support, which grows the movement.

 

 

 


National Coming Out Day 2018. Come out for yourself and advocacy.

It's National Coming Out Day.  Come out for yourself if you're ready.  It's for you.  It's not about when others think you should be ready.

If you're already out or you consider yourself an ally, come out for advocacy.  Although at its core, coming out is a personal decision and experience, we know that "the personal is the political."  That is especially true in Tennessee.

It only took me fifteen minutes to find anti-marriage equality language on the campaign websites of one candidate for Governor of Tennessee, two candidates for State Senate, and three candidates for State House of Representatives.  And anti-transgender rhetoric was used in the gubernatorial primary earlier this year.  Coming out means more in Tennessee than in many places. Coming out for advocacy is more necessary in Tennessee than in many places.

Support our year-round legislative advocacy with a one-time contribution at this link.  Or you can make a monthly donation at this link. Whether you make a one-time contribution or make a sustaining monthly gift, we will lobby hard for you and organize throughout the state to fight back against hate and discrimination. 

Commit to attending at least one of our three Advancing Equality Days on the Hill in 2019.  The Legislature convenes in less than three months.  We've been preparing.  But we can't do it without you.  RSVP at these links:

Part 1 on February 5

Part 2 on March 5

Part 3 on April 2

We are grateful for your support.  You make it easier for people to come out and be themselves and to come out for advocacy.

Chris Sanders

Executive Director

 


October is the month to use your power

October is a critical month for the LGBTQ community.  Not only is it our history month, but it also includes National Coming Out Day.  The personal power of coming out and the social power of our rich history are the sources of our political power.  We can use our political power in October in Tennessee.  Through October 9 we can register to vote at https://proudvoter.org/tep/ and then early voting across the state begins October 17.  Check out these events to grow power for the LGBTQ community in Tennessee.

October 3 in Knoxville.  TEP Knox, Anderson, and Blount Counties Committee meeting.

October 6 in Nashville.  Voter Registration at Pecker's Bar & Grill.

October 9 Statewide:  Last day to register to vote if you want to participate in the November election.  Register here.

October 11 Nationwide:  National Coming Out Day.

October 13 in Knoxville:  OUTStanding LGBTQ+ Conference.

October 15 in Morristown:  TEP Lakeway Committee meeting.

October 20 in Johnson City:  Vote Together: LGBTQ Washington County.

October 20 in Murfreesboro:  Vote Together: LGBTQ Rutherford County.

October 20 in Morristown:  Vote Together: LGBTQ Hamblen County.

October 20 in Memphis: Vote Together: LGBTQ Memphis.

October 20 in Nashville:  Vote Together: LGBTQ Nashville.

October 27 in Knoxville:  Vote Together: LGBTQ.Knoxville.


Get involved THIS WEEK in Middle TN

The TEP Foundation is pleased to be part of these important voter engagement and educational programs this week.  Please, join us if you are available.

Monday (today):  When We All Vote Rally with Faith Hill

Tuesday:  National Voter Registration Day Benefit Show featuring Mary Gauthier and more.

Wednesday:  TN vs. Nashville:  Marijuana, LGBTQ Rights and More

And remember that Tennessee's voter registration deadline is October 9 if you want to participate in the November 6 election.  Register online/on your phone at https://proudvoter.org/tep/ .  If you're already registered, share the link with friends.  Many people in Tennessee don't know the deadline is October 9. 

Thanks for all you do to advance equality in Tennessee.

Chris Sanders

Executive Director

What does TEP do?  The Tennessee Equality Project advocates for the equal rights of LGBTQ people in Tennessee.  We do this through legislative advocacy.  That means we lobby the Tennessee General Assembly and local governments around the state.  When there is an important federal issue, like this anti-LGBTQ adoption issue, we help you make your voice heard with your federal officials.

What does the TEP Foundation do? The TEP Foundation provides a variety of educational and organizing programming.  We have registered 282 voters online since October.  We provide workshops called Advocacy 101 across the state so that more people can engage their elected officials.  We monitor and analyze state legislation related to the LGBTQ community.  We gather stories about the impact of state preemption of local government and provide public education on the issue.  We hold Boro Pride in Murfreesboro annually.  Our Tennessee Open For Business program recognizes companies that do not discriminate against their employees or customers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.



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