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.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Voting for Equality in Shelby County on August 5 (Part 3)

In Part 1 of this series, I reviewed the known positions on LGBT equality and campaign outreach to equality voters of candidates for Shelby County government. Part 2 was devoted to Primaries for the Tennessee House of Representatives and Governor. We end with the primary elections for the three congressional districts that touch Shelby County.


Shelby County includes the entire Ninth Congressional District and parts of the Seventh and Eighth District. There are no contested primaries in the 7th District on August 5. The Eighth district has a competitive Republican primary. The Democratic Primary in the Ninth District will determine who wins the seat in the General Election in November.

Seventh District

Incumbent Marsha Blackburn (R) of Brentwood probably enjoys the fact that she scored 0% on the HRC Score Card. Too bad she has no opponent in the primary. Republicans who vote their party in this district deserve better. choices in their primary.

Democratic challenger Greg Rabidoux of Clarkville has no legislative record on LGBT issues and his opinions are unknown. He has no challenger in the primary. However, he shouldn’t have to work too hard to get a better legislative score than his eventual Republican opponent after Nov. 2 should he win this election.

Eighth District

Republican Primary

The Republican Primary for this race is rather crowded. Each hopes to replace retiring Democrat John Tanner in this District.Three candidates have gone on record with their views on LGBTQ policy issues.

Dr. Ron Kirkland drew local, statewide, and then national attention after making the following comments about Don't Ask, Don't Tell and his military service in Vietnam at a Tea Party Forum in Paris, TN:

"I can tell you if there were any homosexuals in that group, they were taken care of in ways I can't describe to you."
Kirkland later refused to apologize for condoning violence against gay and lesbian servicemembers in a letter to the Jackson Sun. Read more about Kirkland and TEP's call for his apology and support of the repeal of DADT here.

At the same Tea Party Forum in Paris, TN, Randy Smith who served in the first Iraq War followed Dr. Kirkland's comments about DADT with:
"I definitely wouldn't want to share a shower with a homosexual. We took care of that kind of stuff, just like (Kirkland) said."
When called upon to do so by TEP and others, Smith apologized for his comments. He shared that he had a lesbian daughter whom he loves, but he does not approve of her "lifestyle." Read more here.

At the Tea Party Forum in Paris, Dr. George Flinn portrayed ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" as the latest in an effort by Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to weaken the military. He also failed to confront the violence condoned by Kirkland and Smith at the forum. Flinn of Memphis also voted against an ordinance and a watered-down resolution that would protect LGBT county employees from discrimination while serving on the Shelby County Commission.

The other candidates in this race, Stephen Lee Fincher and Ben Watts, also failed to confront the violence condoned by Kirkland and Smith at the Tea Party Forum. Is silence complicity? Fincher won the endorsement of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council - a definite red flag - and was a TN Senate Co-Sponsor of SJR0031 that approved the Anti-Marriage Amendment for placement on the 2006 ballot for Tennessee voters.

Democratic Primary

Roy Herron (D) is on record opposing efforts to prohibit adoption of children by lesbian and gay parents. However, Herron was a TN Senate Co-Sponsor of SJR0031 that approved the Anti-Marriage Amendment for placement on the 2006 ballot for Tennessee voters. Only 3 out of 33 TN Senators voted against this amendment.

Kimberlee E. Smith's (D) views on lgbtq policy issues are not known.

Ninth District

Democratic Primary

Incumbent Steve Cohen (D) has received a the highest HRC Score (90%) of any sitting Congressman or Congresswoman from Tennessee. When he was still TN State Senator from District 30, he voted against the TN anti-marriage amendment. Cohen supported GLBT-inclusive hate crime legislation. He also support repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act. He also supports a GLBT-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in Congress. While in Congress, Cohen wrote a letter of support to the Shelby County Commission for the County Employment Non-Discrimination Ordinance.

Former Memphis Mayor Willie W. Herenton (D) served in that role for almost 20 years. While he was Mayor, Herenton spoke beside Judy Shepard when visited Memphis in 2000 in a special event at Calvary Episcopal Church. Herenton also participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony at the opening of the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center. Mayor Herenton also supports a municipal non-discrimination ordinance for the City of Memphis. However, Herenton has distinguished himself as being against marriage equality as a candidate for this race.

Republican Primary

The positions of candidates Charlotte Bergmann, Jim Harrell, and Kevin Millen on LGBTQ policy issues are unknown. In this heavily Democratic district, asking them about LGBTQ issues may be a moot point.

As with previous posts, please share any known positions on LGBT issues for any of the above candidates. Early voting begins on July 16. After you vote early, join fellow equality voters on July 20 for happy hour at Tuesdays at Grace.

- Jonathan Cole

1 comment:

MickeyWhite said...

Marsha Blackburn Voted FOR:
Omnibus Appropriations, Special Education, Global AIDS Initiative, Job Training, Unemployment Benefits, Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations, Agriculture Appropriations, U.S.-Singapore Trade, U.S.-Chile Trade, Supplemental Spending for Iraq & Afghanistan, Prescription Drug Benefit, Child Nutrition Programs, Surface Transportation, Job Training and Worker Services, Agriculture Appropriations, Foreign Aid, Vocational/Technical Training, Supplemental Appropriations, UN “Reforms.” Patriot Act Reauthorization, CAFTA, Katrina Hurricane-relief Appropriations, Head Start Funding, Line-item Rescission, Oman Trade Agreement, Military Tribunals, Electronic Surveillance, Head Start Funding, COPS Funding, Funding the REAL ID Act (National ID), Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, Thought Crimes “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, Peru Free Trade Agreement, Economic Stimulus, Farm Bill (Veto Override), Warrantless Searches, Employee Verification Program, Body Imaging Screening.

Marsha Blackburn Voted AGAINST:
Ban on UN Contributions, eliminate Millennium Challenge Account, WTO Withdrawal, UN Dues Decrease, Defunding the NAIS, Iran Military Operations defunding Iraq Troop Withdrawal, congress authorization of Iran Military Operations.

Marsha Blackburn is my Congressman.
See her unconstitutional votes at :