Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's Time: Expansion and Strategy Shift for TEP


Nashville, TN: The Tennessee Equality Project announces a new campaign called “It’s Time” that highlights our statewide expansion and our strategy of pursuing positive legislation to provide protections for the State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. Established a little over a year ago, the Shelby County Committee was TEP’s first regional committee. After a spring and summer of organizing around the State, TEP has looked to Shelby County as the prototype for committees in Rutherford, Montgomery, Hamilton/Bradley, Knox, and Franklin Counties as well as the Tri-Cities, to give the organization a statewide presence.

TEP Shelby County also led the way in the organization’s shift to pursuing positive legislation. “The Shelby County Committee worked hard at engaging candidates for City Council last year,” notes TEP President Chris Sanders. “They have turned those contacts into an impressive effort to move a nondiscrimination ordinance forward in Memphis. We are building on their efforts and recruiting district captains in Metro Council districts throughout Nashville so that we can more effectively engage local government. It’s time to advance positive legislation.”

As well as a critical resource in advancing local ordinances, regional committees will fuel the effort to influence legislation at the state level in January when the Legislature reconvenes. Over 30 people came from Shelby County to Nashville in February joining citizens throughout Tennessee to meet with their legislators to discuss issues like the birth certificate bill and the proposed adoption ban. “We began organizing early and set a goal of having the largest delegation in the State at Advancing Equality Day on the Hill,” says Shelby County Co-Chair Tommy Simmons. “Not only were we the largest group, but we played a role in helping defeat the adoption ban.”

The Shelby County Committee’s success has convinced TEP of the importance of establishing strong regional committees throughout Tennessee and helped the organization turn a corner from fighting negative legislation to pursuing positive legislation. “If we ever hope to pass a bill in the General Assembly that provides real protections for our community, we need support throughout the state,” says Jonathan Cole, Shelby County Co-Chair. “We will announce legislation later this month that will benefit every member of Tennessee’s GLBT community.”

Board member and Middle Tennessee Coordinator Todd Hughes , who has led the effort in starting county committees, agrees. “Our strength lies in our ties to the local community. By identifying and empowering members of any given community, we fortify the organization as a whole.”

The Tennessee Equality Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and sustain the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons in Tennessee.


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