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, September 16, 2012

The sad chasm between stories of same-sex couples and the law in Tennessee

I don't know about you, but I was pulled in two different ways as I read this major Tennessean piece about the lives of same-sex couples in Middle Tennessee.  I wanted to cheer them for living their lives with such commitment and I just wanted to crawl in a hole somewhere as I was hit with the impossible gap between their lives and the retrograde marriage laws in our state.  I was hit with that emotion even though I deal with and think about these issues all the time.

Photo from the November 2008 Prop 8 protest in Nashville
I got to be Debbie Downer in the piece and tell the reporter that there's not anything we can do about the marriage discrimination amendment in Tennessee and that when we help state legislative candidates, we're not out talking with straight voters about equality issues.  We're just trying to talk the basics about the candidates.  We are, of course, talking about these issues with the public in other forums on a regular basis and we make our own members aware of which candidates are pro-equality.

So here are the propositions that we have to live with:

*We support marriage equality.

*We can't even come close to getting the Legislature to begin the process to repeal the marriage discrimination amendment.

I wish we could.  I would personally raise funds to erect a statue of any person who could find the 22 votes in the State Senate and the 66 votes in the State House of Representatives to repeal the amendment.  Then, of course, we'd have to win at the ballot. 

But it won't happen in the next ten years, maybe not in 20 years, and maybe never.

When we win marriage equality in Tennessee, it will likely be because of the courts. 

So what can we do?

1.  Elect members of Congress from Tennessee who support repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and who support marriage equality.  They exist.  We need to help them win.

2.  We can help other states win marriage equality this November.  There are ballot measures in Maine, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota.  TEP is working with United for Marriage to send volunteers to these states and we are soliciting airline miles to aid their travel.  Go to this site for more information.  Will you volunteer to go to one of these states or donate your airline miles?  It helps Tennessee if others states win marriage equality because it pushes us to a critical mass of states that can push challenges to DOMA in the courts.  It increases the pressure nationally!

3.  We can fight for safe schools, protections from job discrimination, and all forms of relationship recognition here by lobbying, educating the public, engaging the media, and demonstrating/rallying right here. 

It's not everything.  It's not as much as we want and need.  But we have to start with what we can do.  So let's do what we can!

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