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.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekend Roundup: Rutherford Rep urges purge; civic pride

Mercifully, as far as I know, no Tennessee public official did or said anything incredibly embarrassing when it comes to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community this weekend.  Sadly, though, that energy was used to attack another group.

Don't Ask, Don't Pray Five Times a Day?:  I believe ThinkProgress broke the story over the weekend of State Rep. Rick Womick of Rutherford County calling for a purge of Muslims from the military.  Here's the video: 

Every citizen should be concerned about this kind of rhetoric.  It inflames existing stereotypes and suspicions and it also inspires legislative proposals.  Do I think any kind of bill banning Muslims from the military would pass or, if it did, pass constitutional muster in the courts?  No, of course not.  But I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a resolution had been filed in the General Assembly urging Congress to administer loyalty tests and the like.

I also look at this issue through the prism of the recent Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal, which social conservatives fought for years (some still are fighting it).  If you can ban a whole class of people from the military, you can reinforce the argument that they aren't patriotic citizens and that some of their other rights can be taken away.  Circular logic, to be sure.

And that brings us to...

Civic Pride:  The constant stream of embarrassments emanating almost weekly from our red state officials is a strong inducement for many of us to retreat into the refuge of our cities.  Our cities aren't perfect by a long shot.  They have petty squabbles, minor scandals, budget woes, etc.  But they tend not to cause nearly the same level of angst in the area of human rights and human relations as our state officials.  At this point, it's far easier to get Tennessee's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community involved in city politics than it is in state politics because we can see positive results flowing directly from our actions like the election of Lee Harris to the Memphis City Council.  We're not giving up on the state by any means, but it's nice to have a refuge from the storm.  Beyond politics what we are beginning to see in Tennessee's larger cities is that our open participation in the ordinary life of the city is not some revolutionary act.  It's just business as usual.  

Team TEP
Our Nashville committee participated in the Mayor's Challenge 5K Walk/Run this weekend.  The organizers didn't hesitate to invite us to form a team a few months ago and there were no gasps when we donned our TEP stickers at the event.  The word "equality" doesn't bring to mind the blood bath of the French Revolution to most city dwellers.  That's perhaps a fantasy of the suburbs.  It was just another day and we were just one of dozens of other groups showing our civic pride.  And that, my friends, is what the so called "gay agenda" is all about.  Equal rights, equal participation until it becomes no big deal.

-Chris Sanders

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