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.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dodging Bullets: We Will Survive

Tennessee's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community has a lot of practice at dodging bullets when it comes to the Legislature.

Speaker Vote: The results of the Republican Caucus battle for Speaker of the House nomination should definitely go in the bullet dodged column. Rep. Beth Harwell's victory over Rep. Glen Casada is good news. Casada has supported restrictions on adoption based on sexual orientation in the past. Harwell, on the other hand, does not seem focused on social issues. In fact, she talked to the media about jobs after her victory. During her speech to the Republican Caucus prior to the vote she noted that she had voted against guns in bars because of her constituents and she said there would be times when others would need a pass based on the wishes of their constituents and that they would get one! Harwell's constituents aren't fire-breathing social conservatives. Don't get me wrong, they aren't by and large progressive either. But her district does include a significant number of GLBT folks based on TEP's email list. We won't always agree with her, but she will listen to constituents and she will treat them with respect.

Tough year ahead: Harwell's election is a small, but significant reprieve, but the coming year won't be easy. No one knows the future, but we can probably expect some of the same negative bills we've seen over the last few years to make a return. If we're going to continue to dodge bullets, we're going to have to be faster and more unified.

The way forward: A few suggestions will serve us well over the next couple of years and probably beyond:

  • Make some new friends. The fact that matters is that one party is in control of everything. Whatever your party, get to know your Republican legislator because most of you have one now.
  • When negative bills are introduced, communicate with your representatives. Don't wait for them to get to the floor when they're about to pass. You might find as we did at last year's Advancing Equality Day on the Hill that not all Repubicans support all negative bills.
  • Help us make progress in Tennessee's cities and counties. I doubt anything positive is going to move at the federal or state level over the next two years. Progress is a local thing for the time being. Let's get active where we can advance protections for our community.
Stay strong. We will survive.

-Chris Sanders

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