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, December 30, 2009

Top 10 political stories for the U.S. GBLT community

I decided to break down and offer one view of the top ten political stories involving the GLBT community in the U.S in 2009. Ten is an arbitrary number, but you probably won't read more than ten. And they're in no particular order because I don't want to start any unnecessary arguments at the end of the year. So here they are:

1. Election of Annise Parker as Mayor of Houston. What a great victory in a big ole red state, especially after we had some big losses in marriage equality! A fundraiser for Parker here in Nashville raised over $3000 for her effort, so we feel a strong connection to her win.

2. November ballot initiatives. Washington state partnerships were upheld as was the Kalamazoo non-discrimination ordinance. Marriage equality went down in Maine, though, and that was a huge disappointment. Some of us here in Tennessee did phone-banking for the effort, so the loss was bitter for us, too.

3. Passage of the federal hate crimes act. It is the first federal legislation that offers protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It is especially welcome in Tennessee where we've had horrible hate crimes against transgender people in the last few years.

4. The National Equality March. A huge event that was carried off with an amazingly small budget. And, yes, there is a Tennessee connection. Knoxville native Kip Williams was one of the lead organizers. The event energized thousands of new activists.

5. Marriage victories. DC, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut. New Hampshire takes effect on January 1, 2010 and Connecticut technically began in 2008 but was confirmed in 2009.

6. Griping about President Obama. The American GLBT community has done a lot complaining this year about the pace of the Obama administration's efforts to advance equality versus what we think he promised. No doubt, we want things to move faster, but we're at least moving forward.

7. Like the Bilerico Project, I'm going to give the fact that ENDA didn't pass its own entry. You can't know in every case that a bill isn't going to advance before it stalls. I know that all too well from working on state and local legislation. But I wonder how many times our community can hear "It's going to move" or "We're close" or "There's going to be a mark up next month" before we produce fatigue and destroy our ability to get the community active at the right time. Regardless, in my opinion, it is the most important piece of federal legislation for our community.

8. Republicans playing gay guessing games. Toward the end of this year, suddenly Republicans starting implying and in some case openly saying candidates are gay. The NRCC has done it in Tennessee and it's going on in Illinois now. I predict we'll see more in 2010.

9. Conflict within the GLBT community about whether to advance marriage equality in California in 2010 or in 2012. The argument is still raging in some quarters. Some just don't see any point in waiting. Others want more time to change enough hearts and minds to make victory certain.

10. American ties to Uganda's Kill the Gays bill. Journalists and activists have suggested strong links between the proposed Uganda legislation and American groups and elected officials. American conservatives such as the Rev. Rick Warren have finally started denouncing the bill, but not before massive pressure was applied. The legislation became a public issue thanks to Fresh Air and Rachel Maddow.

There they are. It's just one view. Feel free to offer your own entries that should be part of the top 10.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Open Letter to Andy Sere of the NRCC

In response to Andy Sere of the National Republican Congressional Committee:

Mr. Sere,
I was disappointed to see the text of an email you sent out about State Sen. Roy Herron at this link .

You are mistaken in many of your assertions. First, Out & About Newspaper did not endorse Roy Herron. One blogger at the paper spoke favorably about him.

Second, you used the phrase "special rights." Being free of discrimination is not special. Why do you hate your fellow Americans and their freedoms?

And why do you support an adoption ban that would cost our state and federal governments a few million dollars and leave children without loving homes? Are you not fiscally conservative? Are you anti-family?

Get your facts straight before you wade into Tennessee political waters again.
Chris Sanders
Board Chair
Tennessee Equality Project