Embattled Rep. Durham a co-prime sponsor of resolution attacking Supreme Court marriage ruling

No human being can be 100% consistent, but it's painful to learn that Rep. Jeremy Durham, who resigned as Tennessee House Majority Whip over the weekend, is a co-prime sponsor of an anti-marriage equality resolution in the Legislature.

He has been accused of sending inappropriate text messages to women.

We can't stop hypocrisy from popping up in the Legislature, but we can speak out about resolutions that attack our community.  Please, add your name as a co-sponsor to the People's Resolution against all this legislative whining about marriage.

Four county anti-marriage equality resolutions up for consideration in Tennessee today

January 25--Up to four county anti-marriage equality resolutions may be up for consideration across Tennessee today.  Click on the link for each county for details.

Hawkins County--9:00 a.m. Eastern Time in Rogersville.  We could not confirm the meeting is still on due to weather considerations.

Unicoi County--6:00 p.m. Eastern Time in Erwin.  We have heard the resolution has been pulled from the agenda, but the Commission could still suspend the rules and introduce it at the last minute.

Washington County--6:00 p.m. Eastern Time in Jonesborough.  Expect a big crowd in RED.

Hickman County--7:00 p.m. Central Time in Centerville. 

***If you are able to attend any of these events, please, do so in RED if possible to show opposition to these divisive, discriminatory resolutions.


Anti-transgender, RFRA, anti-marriage equality bills filed in TN Legislature

A host of new anti-LGBT bills have been filed over the last two days in Tennessee.  Here are a few:

1. Anti-transgender student bathroom bill.  Filed by Rep. Susan Lynn and Sen. Mike Bell, the bill would require students to use the restrooms and changing rooms that correspond to gender on their birth certificates.

2. RFRA/Limited Turn the Gays Away bill.  Filed by Rep. Holt and Sen. Bowling, the bill would "protect" any member of the clergy, religious institution, or organization controlled by a religious institution from having to solemnize any marriage they disagree with or providing services in connection with any marriage they disagree with. 

3. Marriage bills.  A general nullification bill that is clearly inspired by the marriage issue, again filed by Rep. Pody and Sen. Beavers.  Various caption bills that seem to deal with other issues, but could actually be shell bills that can be amended to become attacks on marriage equality later.  We should be watching to see what they become.  This one is by Rep. Timothy Hill and Sen. Bailey.  This one is by Rep. Matthew Hill and Sen. SoutherlandThis one is by Rep. Hulsey and Sen. BowlingThis one is by Rep. Rogers and Sen. BeaversThis one is by Rep. Womick and Rep. Beavers.   This one by Rep. Holt and Sen. Bailey.    And this troublesome bill by Rep. Van Huss and Sen. Bowling that prevents public officials from solemnizing marriages. This makes it harder for people who aren't members of congregations (of every sexual orientation and gender identity) to get married.  Here's a resolution by Rep. Lynn expressing disagreement with the Supreme Court's marriage ruling.

4. Marriage and gender identity all in one bill.  Here's a bill by Rep. Sparks and Sen. Beavers that not only defines husband and wife in government documents, but even more fundamentally male and female.  It makes documents that don't adhere to these definitions void.  This is another vicious attack on the transgender community.

5. A new form of the counseling discrimination bill is back and it applies to more than just students this time.  Filed by Sen. Jack Johnson and Rep. Dan Howell, the bill would apply to counselors in private practice and allow them to turn clients away based on sincerely held religious beliefs.



1. Watch for email updates and updates on Facebook on specific bills and take action.

2. Make plans to join us for Advancing Equality Day on the Hill on March 8.

3. Fuel the fight with a small contribution to increase our advocacy efforts.

Make calls to the Carter County Commission to fight the resolution

Tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, the Carter County Commission is considering an anti-marriage equality resolution at 9:00 a.m.

*Can you attend in RED to show your opposition?  RSVP at the link.

*Do you have time today to call the Carter County Commissioners and ask them to vote NO on the resolution?  If so, here's a script you can adapt with contact information.  Leaving a message is fine.  :

"Commissioner ___________________, my name is _________________, and I live in ___________________.  Please, vote NO on the marriage resolution that comes before the commission tomorrow.  I believe it is divisive and discriminatory.  It hurts people I know and care about it, and it tarnishes the image of Carter County.  Thank you for considering my views."

1st District - Hunter, Midway, and Unaka communities

Willie Campbell
101 Little Stoney Rd.
Elizabethton, TN 37643

1st District

(423) 547-0085

Buford Peters
371 Peters Hollow Rd.
Elizabethton, TN 37643

1st District

(423) 297-0059

Robert Acuff
126 Wilshire Dr.
Elizabethton, TN 37643

1st District

(423) 794-6770


2nd District - Hampton, Roan Mountain, and Tiger Valley

Nancy J. Brown
147 Smith Branch Road
Roan Mountain, TN 37687

2nd District

(423) 772-4719

Mike Hill
335 Bear Cage Rd.
Roan Mountain, TN 37687

2nd District

(828) 265-9974

Al Meehan
136 Mountain View Cr.
Hampton, TN 37658

2nd District

(423) 895-1023


3rd District - Central, Keenburg, and Range

Bradley Johnson
501 Dogwood Lane
Watauga, TN 37694

3rd District

(423) 542-8149

Ronnie Trivett
107 S. C. Slagle Road
Elizabethton, TN 37643

3rd District

(423) 542-4534

Charles Von Cannon
198 Von Cannon Drive
Johnson City, TN 37601

3rd District

(423) 202-7677


4th District - Courthouse, Eastside, and Siam Communities

Isaiah Grindstaff
1267 Charity Hill Rd.
Elizabethton, TN 37643

4th District

(423) 707-1140

L. C. Tester
934 DeJarnette Street
Elizabethton, TN 37643

4th District

(423) 547-2884

Danny Ward
124 Overstone Dr.
Elizabethton, TN 37643

4th District

(423) 213-8537


5th District - Happy Valley

Ross Garland
1406 Milligan Hwy.
Johnson City, TN 37601

5th District

(423) 943-2380

Bobbie Gouge-Dietz
138 Wildwood Drive
Johnson City, TN 37601

5th District

(423) 926-9824

Timothy Holdren
156 Toll Branch Rd.
Johnson City, TN 37601

5th District

(423) 444-2266


6th District - Hampton, Little Milligan, Elk Mills, Valley Forge

Randall Jenkins
124 Ross Jenkins Cr.
Elizabethton, TN 37643

6th District

(423) 647-8464

John G. Lewis
P.O. Box 182
Hampton, TN 37658

6th District

(423) 725-2453

Larry Doc Miller
140 Green Hollow Rd.
Butler, TN 37640

6th District

(423) 768-3185


7th District - Gap Creek

Sonja Culler
113 Marsh Lane
Elizabethton, TN 37643

7th District

(423) 542-8020

Ray Lyons
237 McKeehan Ridge Rd.
Elizabethton, TN 37643

7th District

(423) 677-7896

Scott Simerly
398 Max Jett Rd.
Johnson City, TN 37601

7th District

(423) 542-0442


8th District - Elizabethton High School, Harold McCormick

Robert Carroll
713 West D St.
Elizabethton, TN 37643

8th District

(423) 543-0271

Robert L. Gobble
400 M Street
Elizabethton, TN 37643

8th District

(423) 542-5127

Cody McQueen
309 E. Mill St.
Elizabethton, TN 37643

8th District

(423) 213-6396

Gratefully yours,

Chris Sanders
Executive Director

Make calls to the Dickson County Commission to fight the resolution!

We are so grateful to everyone working against the Dickson County anti-marriage equality resolution.  Please, make calls or send emails today or Monday between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. to urge the county commissioners to vote NO.  Leaving a polite but clear message is fine.

Here's a sample script:

"Hello, Commissioner _____________. This is _____________ and I live in Dickson County. I'm asking you to vote against the marriage resolution on January 19 because it is divisive and discriminatory. The county should have other priorities like economic development, which resolutions like these hurt. Thank you!" 

If you're a straight ally, talk about why you're an ally.  If you're a member of the LGBT community, talk about why marriage is important to you.  Add a personal element that makes the case.

Here are the commissioners by district with their phone numbers:

District 1
Randy Simpkins
601 Old Hwy 48
Charlotte, Tn 37036
(615) 789-6001


District 2
Jeff Eby
445 Hwy 46 S Suite 29
Dickson, TN 37055
(615) 206-7973


District 3
Shane Chandler
5450 Highway 49 W
Vanleer, TN 37181
(615) 763-0068


District 4
Kelly Weatherspoon
117 Breeden Road
Charlotte, TN  37036
(615) 517-1122

District 5
James "Cotton" Dawson
1688 Claylick Rd.
White Bluff, TN  37187
(615) 797-6383


District 6
Becky Spicer
1199 Moss Branch Road
Bon Aqua, TN  37025
(615) 412-5752

District 7
Carl Buckner
1525 East Piney Road
Dickson, TN 37055
(615) 446-3843


District 8
B Kyle Sanders
122 West End Avenue
Dickson, TN 37055
(615) 714-9142


District 9
Tony Adams
PO Box 664
Dickson, TN 37056
(615) 210-0400


District 10
Buford Reed
108 Lone Oak Dr.
Dickson, TN  37055
(615) 446-3409


District 11
Linda P Hayes
PO Box 582
Dickson, TN 37056
(615) 446-9715

District 12
Jeff Spencer
113 Marty Lane
White Bluff, TN 37187
(615) 574-0662

And, of course, if you can wear RED on January 19 to the county commission meeting, that will also help.  RSVP at the link.

Gratefully yours,

Chris Sanders
Executive Director

Including LGBT rights and issues in campus diversity programs is too much, according to Rep. Daniel

The Knoxville News Sentinel covered the recent meeting of the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists, which included the unfortunate comments of State Rep. Martin Daniel and a justified question:

"We support diversity programs at any institution of higher learning, but it has gotten out of hand," said Daniel, a frequent critic of the diversity initiatives at UT. "It has taken on a whole life of its own, spilling over into other areas like transgender rights and gay and lesbian issues."

"What's wrong with that?" asked someone in the audience.

Expect attacks on UT-Knoxville's Office of Diversity and Inclusion and other campus diversity efforts this legislative session.



Will the Washington County Commission attack Elton John's marriage?


Elton John and his band are returning to Johnson City in March, according to the Bristol Herald Courier.   Johnson City is located in Washington County whose county commission will take up an anti-marriage equality resolution on January 25.

John married David Furnish in 2014.  He talks about the importance of family in the Bristol Herald Courier piece:

“The simple truth is I want to spend more time with my family and less time touring,” said John in the statement. “I am all too aware of how precious the time ahead is. My sons are growing up so quickly. Their early years are just flying by and I want to be there with them.

"This concert will give me a chance to say thank you to my fans here who have been so faithful over the decades. It’s always important for me to bring my music to everyone.”

It's bad enough that the Washington County anti-marriage resolution would make its own citizens feel unwelcome.  But the message to visitors is also worth considering.

Thank you, Kal, for the photo!

Meet the Teams of 2016 TEP Gumbo Contest

10432156_10204934716740652_8678442580090388390_n.jpgAt this posting, the 6th Annual TEP Gumbo Contest and Mardi Gras Party is just 10 days away. The competition will feature tasting of 16 gumbos from 15 teams, craft beer from Memphis Made and High Cotton breweries, New Orleans jazz from the Hot Memphis 4, awards for best gumbo and local Champions of Equality at the Bridges Center in Downtown Memphis on Sunday, January 24, 2016 from 4:30 - 7 PM. 

Purchase your tickets at this link.  General Admission Tickets are $25 for 21 and older and $15 for under 21. 

It's time we met all of this year's teams and team leaders:

Read more

The Legislature is back in session.

The 109th General Assembly of the State of Tennessee just reconvened and discrimination is on the agenda. 

The Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act has already been filed.  One representative discussed filing a bill that would prohibit transgender students from using restrooms and changing rooms that correspond with their gender identity.  Legislators are going to investigate diversity programming at our public colleges and universities.  And they're not looking to celebrate diversity, but to control the promotion of it.

Meanwhile in local government, county commissions around the state are considering anti-marriage equality resolutions in hopes that the Legislature will take us back to the days before marriage equality.  Rutherford County's is up this week and a large group in red is gathering to show support for marriage equality.

What can you do?

1. If your county is considering an anti-marriage equality resolution, show up in red to oppose it.  Here's a list of upcoming county commission meetings and other events.  

2. Tell the members of the State Senate not to file or sponsor a companion bill to the anti-transgender bathroom legislation at this link.

3. RSVP for TEP's 12th annual Advancing Equality Day on the Hill on March 8.

4. Consider supporting all our work of fighting back against discriminatory legislation with a monthly investment or a one-time contribution.

Together we can raise our voices for a more inclusive, equitable Tennessee.

Champions of Equality will be recognized at TEP Gumbo Contest

Whoarethechampions.jpgTennessee Equality Project will recognize two Champions of Equality from Shelby County at the TEP Gumbo Contest and Mardi Gras Party on January 24, 2016 at the Bridges Center in Downtown Memphis. These champions effected positive policy changes to bring equality and fairness to their communities in Tennessee. 

Read more

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