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 31, 2008

Party tonight, recover tomorrow, and vote no the day after

Sorry if it seems like I'm filling up your calendar. But I think they're 3 pretty good priorities--party, recover, vote. Get out and have fun tonight, but before you drink too much, tell your friends that you're going to get to the polls on Friday (if you live in Nashville) and vote no on English Only. Tell them in Russian or Chinese or Gaelic if you know how.

And then go do it. You can find early voting information here. And, gosh, everybody's doing it so you'll be with friends.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Local Memphis media looks beneath the surface

Eyewitness News continues to follow the evolving story of Leeneshia Edwards, a transgender African American woman who was shot before Christmas Eve. She continues to recover from her injuries at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis.

In the story, Dana Rebik explores why lack of employment opportunities for transgender people can lead to involvement in high risk activity like sex work. The story emphasized some of the points made in a statement released by the Tennessee Transgender Politcal Coalition:
We call on business people who refuse to hire transgender people to open their doors immediately to transgender workers so there are alternatives to working on the streets.

We call on shelters that routinely turn away transgender people who are seeking help, to open their doors so that transgender people do not have to live on the streets.

We call on religious leaders who preach intolerance towards crossdressers and transsexuals from the pulpit to cease immediately and begin preaching messages of love and acceptance of diversity.

We call on political leaders of all parties to stop campaigning against transgender people and start supporting fully inclusive employment non-discrimination and hate crimes legislation to show that the lives of transgender people have value.
The piece aired on television was more detailed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Take some advice from Ellen, Chip.

Mr. Kleinheider has all the updates on the Chip Saltsman Christmas gift that keeps on giving. You know, the ditty about Barack the Magic Negro? Well, boys will be boys and why can't anyone take a joke any more? And, oh yeah, damn those double standards that privilege the media. We're definitely running through the denial phase of this nonsense.

I doubt that he'd care since Ellen DeGeneres is a lesbian (and he wants the RNC to be all about fighting same-sex marriage), but she has some good advice that fits the situation.

Times Free Press writes glowing piece on reparative therapy

Geesh, I hope they got paid to write this. I just love how they describe mainstream psychological practice as "traditional." There is no proof that reparative therapy works. Furthermore, it is harmful to individuals and to the GLBT community as a whole because it bolsters a weak argument that people can and should change their sexuality.

The problem is not someone's sexuality. The problem is legal discrimination and social intolerance that conspire to keep people in the closet or pressure them to be something they aren't.

I know people who tried to "pray the gay away" and endure years of bizarre "therapies." They wanted it to work. They tried to be straight. It failed. These efforts to change sometimes lead to suicide because as time goes on and nothing works, people become hopeless.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Knoxville Church shooting top 2008 story in Knoxville News Sentinel

See the list here.

The eyes of the nation turned to Knoxville when a warm Sunday morning in July was disrupted by three shotgun blasts in a church along Kingston Pike near the University of Tennessee campus.

Unemployed truck driver Jim David Adkisson, police allege, pulled a 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun from a guitar case he carried into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. More than 200 people were crammed into the church at 2931 Kingston Pike for a special presentation of the children's musical "Annie Jr."

Two people were killed and six others were wounded in the 10:18 a.m. July 27 rampage.

Police said the 58-year-old Adkisson planned to continue shooting the sawed-off shotgun with the 76 shells he carried until he was killed by responding officers. Those plans were thwarted when several church members overpowered Adkisson as he reloaded the shotgun. They held him until police arrived.

Police said Adkisson targeted the church because his ex-wife had worshipped there and the church supported gay rights.

He is being held in jail in lieu of $1 million bond awaiting a March trial.

Christophobia? Wrong answer, Mr. Warren

Egalia breaks down the latest Rick Warren blunder of suggesting that his detractors suffer from Christophobia. As she points out, "Warren doesn't explain how this fits with the undeniable fact that many of his harshest critics are also Christian."

Let me start by saying, "Right on!"

Yesterday I attended the requiem mass for Eddie Lightsey. It was a mixture of ancient liturgy and hymns you would hear at just about any Southern funeral--Amazing Grace, It is Well with my Soul, etc. The congregation gathered was a mixture of his gay and lesbian friends (some Christian, some Jewish, some of no particular faith tradition), his family, and members of his parish (straight and gay). It was the universal Church and the human family at its best.

Maybe it was the experience of Eddie's funeral that has made me more sensitive to the fact that Warren's efforts to produce a binary opposition between Christianity and the GLBT community are insulting and inaccurate. But it's an old line that he knows will get him somewhere with some audiences. I hear it all the time. I can't tell you how many reporters have interviewed me about a policy issue and asked, "What about the Churches?" And I remind them that those of us involved in the Christian faith take a variety of positions on issues.

The point is not to conflate the two. Religious diversity is as much a part of the GLBT community as any other segment of the community. If there seems to be more of a gap, perhaps that's because the loudest voices in American Christianity have been at the front of the line in opposing our rights. But Warren doesn't speak for Christianity and he doesn't have a broad enough constituency (millions of copies of poorly written books notwithstanding) to say that anyone who disagrees with him is Christophobic.

We're not afraid of Christ, Mr. Warren. We're afraid of the effects of your divisive rhetoric. You would do well to take a page from the president-elect by reaching out more and stop making up fear-based disorders.

Friday, December 26, 2008

2008--A dangerous year to be G, L, B, and especially T in Tennessee

2008 will probably go down in history as one of the worst for Tennessee’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. The attacks we faced hit the full spectrum from the criminal to the legislative to the electoral.

Criminal: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released their annual hate crimes report that showed a slight decline in hate crimes based on sexual bias from 2006 to 2007. What we must remember is that from 2005 to 2006 there was a three-fold increase. So it would be fair to say that the number stabilized at an alarmingly high level. Based upon a string of news reports, 2008 was nothing less than a year of hate. The police beating and subsequent murder of Duanna Johnson, the murder of Ebony Whitaker, and the shooting of Leeneshia Edwards all in Memphis painfully illustrate the dangers facing transgender persons in Tennessee. The attacks on three gay men leaving a Johnson City bar and the onslaught of vandalism endured by a Warren County man are reminders that being out is never easy in many parts of our State. The murders of two people at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist congregation in Knoxville brought home the reality that even our allies are not immune to anti-liberal and anti-gay hate.

Legislative: The second year of the 105th General Assembly of Tennessee brought renewed attacks on our community’s adoption rights as well as efforts to erase mention of our existence in our public schools. Both bills failed. But the adoption bill remained alive until the first week of May—quite late in the session. And while there was national outrage and some local outrage about the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, there was almost as much attention given to the argument that the bill’s sponsor was not treated fairly in the House K-12 subcommittee because he had asked for but initially not received a roll call vote. People who couldn't manage a word about the perniciousness of the bill didn't waste any time yelling "Not fair" about procedures.

Electoral: Facing an invigorated State Republican party, some Democrats running for legislative seats based their campaigns in part upon opposition to “gay marriage.” Particularly onerous were the radio ads run by both parties’ candidates in the 12th Senate District. Because same-sex marriage is already banned by statute and constitutional amendment in Tennessee, the message was nothing but an appeal to prejudice. It largely turned out to be a losing strategy for Democrats. Conservative Republicans won control of the State House and Senate for the first time since Reconstruction setting up 2009 to be another rough year for the State’s community.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Transgender shooting victim in critical condition

I just received word of another possible hate crime against a transgender woman in Memphis:

A transgender woman shot in the face is in critical condition.

Police say the shooting happened sometime around 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, December 23, 2008 in the 3100 block of Boxtown Road in south Memphis near T.O. Fuller State Park. Leeneshia Edwards was last seen about an hour earlier at the “C.K.’s Coffee Shop” on Union Avenue in midtown Memphis.

Edwards, is now in critical condition at “The Med”. Her cousin tells us Edwards was shot in the jaw, side and back and is undergoing multiple surgeries.

More here after the jump. If you have any information about this cases, call Memphis Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-CASH.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In Memoriam: Eddie Lightsey

I have received word that Eddie Lightsey passed early this morning. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this month, and it moved with devastating speed. Eddie was an active member of the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce. In fact, he was always one of the first to arrive at monthly meetings. He was also a much loved supporter of the Nashville Grizzlies Rugby Football Club. He provided critical support as the team got started. And he was a man of faith. I remember a particularly wonderful Feast of the Epiphany party that he gave. His funeral is expected later in the week at St. Ann's Episcopal Church where he was a member.

Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord:
And let light perpetual shine upon him.
May his soul, and the souls of all the departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why the Exodus of Talent and Money from Memphis and Shelby County?

The Commercial Appeal writes today of a disturbing trend over the last 10 years. People are leaving Memphis for areas where they can earn higher incomes:

An analysis of tax-return data compiled by the Internal Revenue Service showed that in Memphis, upward mobility often translates into outward mobility. The total income of people leaving the area outstrips the pay of those moving in by tens of millions of dollars each year, according to the data.

That has led to a substantial -- and accelerating -- hemorrhaging of wealth, bringing ominous portents for the economy, tax base and even quality of life for the entire region.

The income drain has been most pronounced within Shelby County. During a 10-year period ending in 2007, the county sustained a net loss of $1.83 billion in incomes among residents moving in and those leaving.

Not only did the number of wage-earners leaving (173,601) outnumber those coming in (155,660), but the average income of the outgoing residents was greater than those arriving -- $46,880, compared with $40,544.

One person who left Memphis for greener pastures "cited familiar complaints with Memphis: intractable racial divisions, the high cost of air travel and a lack of forward thinking. 'People are so focused on looking back at the past'."

This trend reminds me of Richard Florida who wrote The Rise of the Creative Class and other best-selling books. His basic claim in his writing is the cities with high concentrations of high-tech workers, artists, musicians, lesbians and gay men, and a group he describes as "high bohemians", correlate with a higher level of economic development.

Florida argues that a strong creative class promotes an open, dynamic, personal and professional environment that attracts more creative people, as well as businesses and capital. Attracting and retaining high-quality talent, instead of infrastructure projects like sports stadiums, iconic buildings, and shopping centers, is a better primary use of a city's resources for long-term prosperity.

Florida uses his own ranking systems that rate cities by a "Bohemian index," a "Gay index," a "diversity index".

People of the creative class do not linger for very long in Memphis. They move to cities that have learned to embrace diversity like Dallas or Atlanta - cities that have passed employment non-discrimination ordinances that protect people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. The way GLBT people are treated in a community is one method for measuring social, political and economic success.

The City of Memphis can leave the past behind by moving into the future. Enacting a non-discrimination ordinance that protects all people regardless of religion, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, creed, political affiliation or other non merit factors will send a message to creative people looking to call Memphis home.

DCS making progress--Let's not slow them down with foster care and adoption bans

Gail Kerr devotes today's column to the progress that the Tennessee Department of Children's Services. She summarizes the findings of a recent report:

Among the things Tennesseans should be most proud of:

• Kids are no longer shuffled between dozens of foster families.

• The caseload of social workers has gone from 40 kids on average to 20. When the mess started in the late 1990s, caseworkers sometimes had 60 kids under their care.

• There are now 7,500 kids in state custody, from a high of 11,000 in 2004.

• The state has placed 90 percent of children in foster care with families instead of group homes or institutions. It's kept 85 percent of siblings together.

We're already hearing rumblings, though nothing definite, of renewed legislative efforts to prevent gays and lesbians or unmarried couples from becoming foster and adoptive parents. Obviously, we would oppose those efforts regardless of whether the Department were making progress. But at a time when the Department is doing such a good job and when the State budget can't bear added expense, I think a good neutral argument can made for scuttling restrictive legislation. Let's continue to focus on getting more children into loving homes.

Friday, December 19, 2008

All I want for Christmas...

Well, I could fill in the blank with equal protection under the law, but that's a little too obvious. It might be a little more interesting if I actually asked for some things that would get us closer to that in Tennessee. So here they are:

1. The GLBT community in every city in Tennessee with over 50,000 people setting a political goal that they would work to achieve within 3 years. It could be any number of things--passing a nondiscrimination policy for their city government, electing an out official, or endorsing and electing a candidate who is honored to have the endorsement.
2. A governor who would support a nondiscrimination policy for all State employees. Think it can't happen in socially conservative state? Just look a few miles to the North at Governor Steve Beshear of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
3. Politicians whose votes were informed by the needs of their family and friends. What? Aren't they doing that already? Sure, some of them are on some issues. But I could name you some who either have gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender immediate family members or whose "best friends are gay" but aren't voting for equality at the federal and state level.
4. An epiphany for every high school student who is a member of a Church youth group. What if every one of them woke up one day and realized that if writing an interpretive paper on a 21st century novel is hard, then it might be even harder to interpret the Bible, which was written a few thousand years ago in other languages? I'm not saying everyone would or should change his or her mind about issues of gender and sexuality. But it would nice if there were a pause before they jumped from the pages of the Bible to opposing my rights. Fortunately, some Church youth groups do a good job at making teens realize that interpreting and applying the Bible is no easy task.
5. One major company that is considering relocating to Tennessee from out of state to tell the Governor, legislative leaders, and local officials, "We have a lot of GLBT employees and we hope they'll move with us, but they've heard about the hate crimes and the lack of government protections for their families. What can you say to convince us that our diverse workforce will be valued if we move to Tennessee?" Something like that happened in Oklahoma.
6. An openly gay coach of UT's football team who led them to a record number of victories. That would probably do more for the cause of equality in Tennessee than about anything I could think of. And if not the coach, a quarterback or a linebacker would do just fine. In some ways, the late Jackie Walker has already opened that door a little.
7. And speaking of Tennessee celebrities, how about more support from the country music industry? A few more interviews like this one with Toby Keith would be welcome.

Seven is a good number for now. I'm not expecting a Christmas miracle this year. It's a wish list, after all.

Phoenix couples' right to hospital visitation recognized

The Phoenix City Council on Wednesday unanimously voted to create a domestic-partner registry, following in the footsteps of Tucson, which launched a similar program in 2003.

Domestic partner registration allows the right of partners to visit each other in Phoenix hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and other health-care facilities.

The Tennessee Equality Project hopes to pursue similar legislation on hospital visitation and medical decision making in the 2009 Tennessee General Assembly.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Who were you expecting? Gene Robinson maybe?

All Hell has broken loose in GLBT quarters about the choice of Rick Warren to pray at the Inauguration. I completely get and agree with the opposition. I'm surprised by the surprise, though. Barack Obama has been doing a lot of, depending on how you look at it, reconciling with or coopting foes from the campaign. Look at how many of his Democratic primary opponents are going to be in the Administration. While Rick Warren calls Obama a friend, Evangelicals have symbolically represented the other for Democrats for quite some time.

There's a lot of back and forth inside baseball on whether a congressional committee made the decision or whether Obama had the final say even if the committee did suggest Warren. I don't think that's the point.

We have a president-elect who will not be scripted by the divisions in the culture war. For those of us on either side, that's not going to be pleasant. It's going to be a constant effort at interpreting what Obama's choices mean. We may be guessing for quite some time if we try to follow the semiotics of the words and events surrounding him.

Public presentation and rhetoric matter. And I think a president's rhetoric has to try to stretch to include every group. Obama could take the clear and easy road by either picking one side or speaking in such generalities that what he says is meaningless. Instead, he may be charting a new course of simultanteously embracing aspects of the two sides in the culture war. That will provide plenty of occasion for both sides to be insulted.

I admit I'm not quite sure what to make of the pattern that is emerging. And while necessary from the point of view of GLBT advocacy, the condemnations do not begin to explain what is at work in these paradoxical choices that Obama is making.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Open seat on the Knox County Commission

From the Knoxville News Sentinel:

The Knox County Commission voted Monday to go forward with appointing a replacement for ousted Commissioner Scott Moore.

The panel will accept resumes for Moore's former seat through Dec. 31, hold a public forum in Halls in mid-January, and vote at the monthly commission meeting Jan. 26, when candidates also will have an opportunity to make their case.

Moore gave up his right to hold office when Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood ruled Oct. 14 that he lied under oath during testimony in 2007 about violating the state Open Meetings Act.

The County Commission has been a mess for quite some time. It will take a reformer with patience not to get drawn into all the legislative body's drama. It will also take someone who is willing to come in under a cloud of uncertainty. Moore could win an appeal and his seat.

"This body is required to act within 120 days to fill the vacancy," [Law Director Bill] Lockett said, adding that the deadline is Feb. 12. Lockett explained that under the law Moore could regain his seat immediately if he wins his appeal, which is scheduled for oral arguments in January.

Monday, December 15, 2008

City Paper draws parallels between Durbin and Glasgow in 18th District

Nate Rau takes an in-depth look at the departure of 18th District Councilman Keith Durbin and discusses David Glasgow's possible candidacy for the office:

The parallels between Durbin and one of the candidates are hard to ignore. Like Durbin, Glasgow, the public information officer for the state Rural Development agency, is openly gay. Like Durbin, Glasgow said he would make accessibility to his constituents the centerpiece of his potential campaign.

Rau also quotes me, but it looks as if an extra "is" was added. Maybe it was just a typo or maybe it's because I was doing the interview over the phone while having lunch at Cinco de Mayo.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see whether sexual orientation does become an issue in this race. Considering that the precincts in the 18th Council District voted against the marriage amendment in 2006, I would be surprised and disappointed if it became an issue. Basic district issues and willingness to put in the time to serve will probably loom large.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mumpower cut his legislative teeth on opposition to taxes and gay foster parenting

An Associated Press profile of House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower shows his steady opposition to taxes. Thrown into the discussion of the lottery and taxes is his early opposition to gay foster parents, too. He sponsored the bill in 1997.

One of the first bills Mumpower sponsored after his election was a 1997 measure to prohibit gay couples from becoming foster parents. It didn't pass, and later incarnations of the bill with other Republican sponsors also have failed.

The piece follows up on the lottery and tax positions with quotations, but they don't come up with anything on foster parenting. So it's not clear where foster parenting and adoption fall in his list of priorities now.

Big opening for Milk in Knoxville

Milk, the film that portrays the life of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk starring Sean Penn, opened to a large audience in Knoxville on Sunday afternoon. Todd Cramer of the TEP Knox County Committee and Knoxville Human Rights Group and Robbie Arrington of the Regal Entertainment Group (pictured above) organized the event. A packed theatre watched the film and stayed for a discussion. Among those attending were Knoxville City Council members Bob Frost and Bob Becker as well as State Rep. Harry Tindell. Becker talked about running for office and encouraged those in attendance to consider a run for Council. Seats will become open since members are term limited. He indicated he thought a candidate who is out can be elected in the City of Knoxville.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Superunintendedly dumb

Senator Dewaye Bunch says that a proposal to elect school superintendents could pass the Legislature:

“It’s hard to look citizens in the eye and say you are smart enough to elect me and not smart enough to elect him,” Sen. Bunch, R-Cleveland, said at a meeting with Cleveland and Bradley County school board members to talk about the Tennessee School Boards Association’s 2009 legislative agenda.

That's right up there with electing sheriffs as the top law enforcement officer in counties around the State. Oh, wait...we do that. The executive management of our schools requires professionalism and a buffer, however slight, against politics. Do we really want superintendents campaigning?

If it's hard to look voters in the eye and say that, then buck up and find the words and tell us.

Friday, December 12, 2008

NAE government affairs VP Richard Cizik resigns over civil unions remark

Richard Cizik, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, has resigned over remarks he made on National Public Radio in support of civil unions. Christianity Today interviewed NAE president Leith Anderson on the reasons for the resignation and the fallout.

According to Anderson, "There was a discussion and a consensus that his credibility as spokesperson for the NAE was irreparably compromised. It was out of reporting that discussion to Richard Cizik that he and I discussed together and mutually concluded that his resignation was appropriate."

It's not a puff piece. It's a hard-hitting interview and Anderson's answers are not very strong at points. Anderson refuses to say, for example, whether the NAE has seen a spike in negative emails in reaction to Cizik's remarks. What I wish they had asked was whether the NAE had seen a high volume of criticism of the NAE for pressuring Cizik to leave.

Another example of how ill-prepared Anderson was for the interview is this exchange:

Has the rise of the Religious Right made it more difficult for the NAE to try to represent evangelicals?

I don't know. I've never thought about that.

I'm sure the interviewer had to bite her tongue or restrain her facial expressions after that answer.

While not backing full marriage equality, Cizik is to be commended for the courageous stand he took. There are many Evangelicals who are with him on this point. Obviously there are still many who are not.

The Cizik resignation signals to me, despite setbacks like California's Proposition 8, that Evangelicals know they are losing on this issue. When you're losing, you can shift your position or dig in. You can also keep using the same tactics or change your methods. While the continuing leadership of the NAE may dig in on their position, the fact that someone at the highest levels of the organization is shifting is probably indicative that rank-and-file Evangelicals may be more receptive to civil unions.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Damning them with faint praise: The City Paper on the District 18 candidates

When Clint Brewer says that the District 18 Metro Council race "is likely going to be a hard choice for engaged residents of the district," you don't have to read long to find out why. I suppose in our contemporary noncommittal vocabulary, words like "operatives," "intriguing," and "youngish" are complimentary words. At least, I detected a positive tone as I read them with respect to candidates Kristine LaLonde and John Ray Clemmons.

But were I a candidate or a voter, I would hope that some other words were on the tip of Mr. Brewer's pen. I would want to know who has the platform that is most relevant and comprehensive with respect to neighborhood issues. I would want to know who has the experience and record of delivering on promises.

Perhaps youngish, intriguing operatives make good copy in People magazine or maybe as cocktail party guests, but let's hope the candidates reveal a bit more of themselves to the papers soon. If I were a candidate, I would certainly be glad for any media attention, but if all they can come up with are these three words, then the candidates have some work to do in defining themselves.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thank goodness fairness doesn't cost any money

The Memphis Daily News is reporting that the expected budget deficit for the City of Memphis has increased from $6.3 million to $8.8 million for the fiscal year ending in June. Yikes!

The Shelby County Committee of TEP hopes the Memphis City Council will enact a Non-Discrimination Ordinance that promotes fair and equal treatment of citizens regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity in 2009.

It's a good thing that the proposed legislation is budget neutral.

You can join the cause for a Memphis Non-Discrimination Ordinance here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thoughts on Day Without a Gay

Wednesday, December 10 has been proclaimed Day Without a Gay and comes in the wake of the nationwide Proposition 8 protests. The basic idea is to "call in gay" at work and spend time volunteering to raise the visibility of the GLBT community. The other goal is to demonstrate our community's economic impact by showing what it would be like if we stopped spending money and stopped working for a day. Much of the national GLBT press has been positive about the nationwide action. But reading the comments at this popular blog shows that opinion is far from uniform.

In terms of the local reaction, Out & About has a story that mentions a business that plans to close for the day. But they are also running a commentary piece that calls the whole thing into question, and it is receiving a lot of hits.

The Tennessee Equality Project gave our local committees around the State the option of organizing something for the day, but they decided not to because they didn't think that it supported the political goals of their communities. Advising people to call in gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender is a recipe for getting fired in many parts of the State since we lack federal, state, or local protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

I think to be effective boycotts like this have to be focused. Having led a successful business-related action when Kroger and Harris-Teeter pulled Out & About Newspaper from their racks, TEP prefers to advise action that is locally adapted and focused on positive action. By urging volunteering, Day Without a Gay actually has a lot of potential. There ought to be a day of service when GLBT people are visible serving causes in their communities. But connecting it to calling out of work simply isnt effective in some of the redder regions of the country.

But what about the visibility argument? Don't these nationwide actions give us visibility? TEP supported the Prop 8 rallies in Tennessee, but we also recognize that they probably had no impact on the opinion of any elected officials who have the power to influence state and local laws. There was plenty of media coverage, but the coverage provided a momentary glimpse of our community to an intedterminate audience.

In our experience, what works is getting lots of GLBT people and our allies to have focused conversations with lawmakers about specific legislation. It makes them rethink their support of negative legislation and in some cases gains us allies who find the courage to defend the rights of their constituents.

Day Without a Gay can become something powerful, but it needs some revisions. The series of actions planned after the Prop 8 rallies may quickly become a "flavor-of-the-month" approach if they are not locally adapted and focused on persuading federal, state, and local officials who can help us make real progress toward equality.

Update: Here's the Tennessean's piece.

There can be only one: Bredesen as the Highlander

The City Paper's Clint Brewer has his reasons, I'm sure. He continues to use the Odom-Bredesen war of words to slam Odom. But where is the analysis that helps us understand a Democratic governor who has a pattern of undermining Democrats?

No need to run against Senator Lamar Alexander, we heard over the last year and a half. And then there were those comments predicting failure as Speaker Naifeh worked out the cable bill this year. When asked to opine about Barack Obama, we were sent on shopping sprees to Wal-Mart followed by a feast at Waffle House. But it didn't end with the election. In fact, it just brought new opportunities to snipe at the House Democratic leader.

With two years left, the Governor may well be on his way to being the last one standing before he walks off the stage.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Evangelical leaders attack Newsweek piece, but they say they really aren't worried about it.

Politico quotes a number of Evangelical leaders who express their dismay with the recent Newsweek cover story about the religious case for same-sex marriage.

“It doesn’t surprise me. Newsweek has been so far in the tank on the homosexual issue, for so long, they need scuba gear and breathing apparatus,” said Richard Land, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “I don’t think it’s going to change the minds of anyone who takes biblical teachings seriously.”

Tony Perkins, president of the socially conservative Family Research Council, agreed, calling Newsweek’s cover story “yet another attack on orthodox Christianity.”

“I hardly think that Newsweek is a credible venue for theological discussion,” said Perkins. “I mean, I thought it was just full of holes.”

Of course, they really are worried about the piece. It bypasses their pronouncements and lands in the mailboxes of hundreds of thousands of people around the country. It will spend a week in waiting areas of barber shops and doctors' offices for anyone to pick up. You won't be able to browse the magazine section of Kroger without seeing it. And it hits them where they believe they're strongest--religious authority. It adds another jolt of momentum in public opinion that is gradually shifting in favor of some kind of state sanction for same-sex relationships.

And best of all, it highlights the irony of the names of the organizations opposing same-sex marriage that include the words "liberty" and "research."

The problem that the Religious Right has is that it has no end game, except holding onto the status quo. While there can be little doubt that their hardcore adherents would like to see a return to sodomy laws, there is almost no chance of that happening. So we're in the purgatorial situation of not being able to go backwards. The GLBT genie is out of the bottle. More and more people are going to live their lives openly and lawfully and form relationships, and they have straight friends and family members who love them. So if we're not going to go back to sodomy laws and we've got hundreds of thousands of people forming relationships, doesn't the state have an interest in recognizing and ordering those relationships in order to secure the status of children and protect the partners involved? If that is the case, the only solution is a state sanctioned means of entering and dissolving committed relationships. The arrangement society knows best is marriage.

Candidates for 18th District Metro Council seat lining up

Rex gives us an update on who's in and who may be out in the race for the seat soon to be vacated by Councilman Keith Durbin. He hints at a possible narrowing of the field with some prospective candidates meeting to determine who should stay in. Rex has also heard that Randy Rayburn is reconsidering his run, though some had said that he might have had the easiest time raising money.

Getting the most ink in the piece is David Glasgow:

And a serious dark horse candidate is David Glasgow, who serves as a public information officer for the Tennessee Rural Development office. Glasgow is involved in his neighborhood association and worked on Durbin’s campaign a year ago.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

TEP urges Metro Nashville to vote No on English-only ballot measure

In our regular meeting today, the board of the Tennessee Equality Project voted to urge our members and other citizens in Metro Nashville to vote No on the English-only ballot measure in January.

If passed, English-only would contradict the hospitality and welcoming nature of our city. It would also negatively affect members of the GLBT community whose first language is not English.

We are pleased to join the Nashville for All of Us coalition.

Friday, December 5, 2008

David Glasgow considering 18th district run

Out & About Newspaper is reporting that David Glasgow is considering a run for the 18th District Metro Council seat soon to be vacated by Keith Durbin. The story also notes that Maria Salas is no longer considering a Council bid this go-round.

Well known in federal and state government circles, Glasgow has years of public service and a thoughtful approach to neighborhood issues so important to the 18th District. He also makes a strong statement about the amount of time the position would require and his ability to take on the responsibility.

The special election for the seat is expected to take place in March.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Keith Durbin taking new position

The Nashville Post, The Tennessean, and Out & About Newspaper are reporting that District 18 Metro Council Member Keith Durbin will be resigning his office to take a position as Director of I.T. for Metro effective January 5. The first out member of the GLBT community elected to a legislative body in Tennessee, Durbin's appointment is another first. He is the first openly gay head of a department in Metro.

With years of experience in the field, Durbin will bring expertise and leadership to the position. TEP congratulates Keith in his new role. The appointment demonstrates Mayor Karl Dean's commitment to professional excellence and diversity.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

What is the source of freedom?

According to Michael Steele, former Lt. Governor of Maryland and a candidate for chair of the RNC, "Our freedom is from God, not government." As a Christian, I'm inclined to agree in that complicated way that activists who are religious agree with such broad statements.

There's a certain pedigree to the statement and it's a zig-zag that runs through Christian thought. St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians talks a great deal about freedom and Martin Luther wrote a treatise called "The Freedom of a Christian." Neither St. Paul nor Luther meant precisely what Mr. Steele is saying, though. For both, the powers of the government themselves are from God, just as our freedom is. So it's a curious development over 2000 years that so many Evangelicals happen to be so anti-government and simultaneously for expanded government with respect to social issues.

A lot of the complication comes from differing interpretations of the "uses of the law" in Christian thought. For Luther, the law convicts one of sin and makes one conscious of the need for grace. It also exists to restrain the effects of sin so that society doesn't plunge into chaos. In the Calvinist tradition, there is a third use of the law. It provides a model for the regenerated life. Luther, always suspicious of the way people try to achieve their own justification, would have none of that, of course. We could further complicate the picture with the Catholic conception of natural law and its implications for civil law.

So while all Christians at some level can agree that freedom is from God, the disagreements that still drive the culture wars really center on law. What is divine law, what is natural law, and how much of it should be reflected in civil law? Secularists would say, "That's irrelevant" or perhaps "None of the above."

But for Christian progressives and Christian social conservatives, the question matters. And it requires a great deal more fruitful discussion between the two groups than it is currently receiving. It would require Christian progressives to do a great deal more in engaging Christian social conservatives on their own ground. Publications like First Things and Christianity Today have large followings and are supplying the intellectual resources for one side of the debate. My sense is that the Christian Century just doesn't compete at the same level.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Special screening and discussion of Milk in Knoxville on Dec. 14

The TEP Knox County Committee and Human Rights Group have arranged a special showing and discussion of Milk on Sunday, December 14 at 12:30 p.m. at the Regal Downtown West Cinema 8. Milk, the story of openly gay San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk, opens nationwide in December. Starring Sean Penn, the film comes at a time when new activism is emerging in the wake of the passage of California's Proposition 8.

Ticket information here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Adoption fight coming to Tennessee, predicts Family Equality Council E.D.

In a Time article about the issue of adoption by gays and lesbians, Jennifer Chrisler of the Family Equality Council says the battle is coming back to Tennessee:

Similar statehouse fights are pending in South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, says gay adoption expert and advocate Jennifer Chrisler, and more are likely to follow, as conservatives try to duplicate their successful strategy to ban gay marriage state by state. "The other side was very strategic about their efforts to ban gay marriage," Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Center in Boston, told TIME. "They were able to bring that issue to the attention of the American people well before Americans were ready to have that conversation. They are likely to use a similar strategy when it comes to parenting issues."

It's not clear whether she has spoken to someone in Tennessee or she has just read the tea leaves. But given the experiences of 2005 and 2008, she's probably not off the mark.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ladies (and gentlemen) in waiting: GLBT rights and Obama's priorities

Politico discusses the waiting game the GLBT community is playing with the administration of President-elect Barack Obama:

“You can bet that the community is going to be watching, and they’re going to want to hear what his plans are and when they think he can move legislatively,” said Denis Dison, a spokesman for The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute.

“There are also some pretty politically savvy people in the movement who understand that what he has to tackle are the things that are going to affect all of us,” Dison continued. “Gay people are just as affected by the economy as straight people. I don’t think anyone is going to expect him on Day One to start working on equal rights issues.”

The article points out that national GLBT groups are currently focusing on the transition and have helped place 7 openly GLBT people on the team. That's a good start and it will help make certain that our concerns don't get lost in the mix. Of course, the piece only speaks to the priorities of the administration. What the Democratic leadership in Congress plans is another matter. Members of Congress with large GLBT and allied constituencies may press for some legislation next year, such as the Matthew Shepard Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal hate crimes protections. It would be hard to imagine Obama not signing such legislation if it reached his desk in 2009.

Update: Andrew Sullivan tells us reports that a repeal of Don't Ask/Don't Tell will be delayed until 2010 may be false.

The spectre of Puritanism and after-hours clubs

Quotation of the Day: "Nobody wants to be puritanical and bring a return to Prohibition downtown," said Metro Councilman Mike Jameson, who represents the neighborhoods around Faded."

As a Cavalier Anglican, I know a thing or two about Puritans. They drank. Prohibition was their bastard child perhaps, but they drank alcohol. They were, however, fond of regulating and shutting down amusements. Kings James I and Charles I, wrongly but widely reviled in Whiggish histories of the 17th Century, sought to defend the people's lawful amusements in the Declaration of Sports sometimes known as the Book of Sports, recognizing the working class connection: "For when shall the common people have leave to exercise, if not upon the Sundays and Holy-days, seeing they must apply their labour and win their living in all working-days?"

Back to the 21t Century. Some will say that the word "lawful" is what is in question since there are so many instances of the police being called to the scene of one of these clubs, but much of that seems to be noise related. When you look at who makes up the clientele, we're not far from the Puritan's social control policies, after all: "The after-hours crowd can't envision a Music City where the music stops at 3 a.m. The clubs, they say, are a dead-of-night melting pot, where club kids rub elbows with factory workers and bartenders coming off shift."

Lord have mercy. What will happen if that sort continue to mix and carry on at all hours? Why can't they go home and sleep like decent people with 8:00 to 5:00 jobs?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Metro Nashville nondiscrimination ordinance for the new year

Rex mentions what the Nashville GLBT community has been discussing for months:

Look for major legislation from Council members Megan Barry, Tim Garrett and Ronnie Steine.

Barry has already said she intends to file a nondiscrimination bill to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Metro employees. Steine has weighed in on English Only and word has it Garrett is considering attention-grabbing legislation as well.

With a dicey picture in the Legislature this winter, city and county governments may have to become the new focus for equality efforts in Tennessee.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

West Nashville vs. West Tennessee: Odom victorious

Colby Sledge of the Tennessean breaks the news that Rep. Gary Odom has emerged the winner in a close contest against Rep. Craig Fitzhugh for the House Democratic leadership post. Rep. Mike Turner was elected caucus chairman over Rep. Joe Armstrong.

Odom's victory represents another symbolic loss for Gov. Phil Bredesen who has been widely criticized for insufficient involvement in this fall's legislative races. Bredesen through his press secretary had recently expressed "trust" issues with Odom. Well, Governor, you've got a few weeks to work on that until the session begins. Please, take advantage of the time.

See also Ken Whitehouse.

Equality Styles on Tuesday, with more salons

We've got an easy way for you to support equality this month. If you're thinking about getting a trim or even a new look before Thanksgiving, we hope you'll mark Tuesday, November 25 on your calendar and participate in Equality Styles, a benefit for TEP supported by these stylists:

Equality StylesIn Middle Tennessee:
Robert Christopher's Salon
2806 Bransford Avenue
Nashville, TN 37204
(615) 383-0311
Stylists: Chris Espander and Bunny Martin

Suite One Salon
2907 12th Avenue S Nashville, TN 37204 (615) 385-5500 Michael Higgins, Proprietor

Studio GavenStudio Gaven
1601 Westgate Circle
Brentwood, TN 37027
(615) 503-9788
Fax (615) 503-9780
Mention the TEP promotion & schedule appt on 11/25.

In the Tri-Cities:
Saratoga Studio of Dezines
8 Four Winds Drive
Bristol, VA 24202
(276) 466-5873
Stylist: Joshua Helms, Creative Director

A portion of the proceeds from the day will go to TEP. We are grateful to these salons and stylists for their support.

If you own or work at a salon and would like to be included, we would be glad to add your salon. To participate, contact Chris Nelson at or H.G. Stovall at

We missed you last Sunday

President-elect Barack Obama hasn't been to Church in a few Sundays. Stories like this remind me of the times I've missed Church or was at Church but wasn't "seen." Invariably someone comes up, even in the Episcopal Church, and says, "We missed you last Sunday." I'm usually standing there with a faint smile thinking, "Did one of the priests appoint you to say that?" If I'm really feeling heathen, I've been known to respond, "I missed you, too." That usually results in a puzzled look.

But getting back to Obama....come on, let's not make much of this kind of thing. After all, who can blame him for being cautious about going to Church? Hasn't he been questioned enough about the content of sermons? I'm sure he'll be back in the pews soon enough.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Murfreesboro congregation gains welcoming status

The Unitarian Fellowship of Murfreesboro has been designated a welcoming congregation by the Unitarian Universalist Association. They meet at 112 W. College in the Murfreesboro Arts Center. The 46-year old congregation offered their help during the Vote No on 1 campaign when TEP was fighting the marriage discrimination amendment in Tennessee. Congratulations to them and thanks for their witness and work.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tensions run high on City Council police residency vote

On Tuesday of this week, the Memphis City Council failed to pass a measure that would have relaxed residency requirements for Memphis police officers. From the Daily News:
On a 6-to-7 vote along racial lines, the council this week rejected a proposed loosening of residency requirements for Memphis police officers. The resolution would have allowed the police department to hire applicants who live within 20 miles of Shelby County.
The vote will have implications for the safety and security of Memphis as well as how Council members will work together with one another in the future.

Click here for additional coverage from the Commercial Appeal.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Making it official with bologna, Burchett running for Mayor

State Sen. Tim Burchett is announcing that he is running for Mayor of Knox County. He kicks of his candidacy with a bologna lunch at Powell Auction Co., perhaps in a nod to the tough economic times. But it is a very non-bologna platform that he's running on. No fillers, in other words. Sorry I couldn't resist.

-- Schools. “My degree’s in education (from the University of Tennessee). Both my parents were career educators. The best people to run the schools are teachers and parents. That’s the basics.”

-- Safe streets. “If the sheriff’s department does not have proper funding, crimes will occur.”

-- Low taxes. “We have got to figure out how to do it without (raising) taxes. We can’t tax ourselves into prosperity. If that were so, Russia and Cuba would be a mecca for people.”

The Senate's loss will be Knox County's gain if Burchett is successful. County government has been one long drama. Here's a sample: exhibit A, exhibit B, and exhibit C. He's got his work cut out for him and is to be commended for taking it on.

So who's taking his place in the Senate? There has been some talk about John Duncan III and Rep. Stacey Campfield.

Obama's transition team details 8-point commitment on GLBT and related issues

And it comes not a moment too soon for those of us in Tennessee wondering what the 106h General Assembly has in store for us. Here are the pledges, starting at about the middle of the page.

Though falling shor of supporting full marriage equality, the agenda outlined by the transition team (if pursued!) will remove many obstacles to the security of GLBT families. Expanding hate crimes and employment protections are basic to protecting the lives and livelihoods of our community. There is also discussion of adoption, but it's not clear what an Obama administration would do since the matter has been largely a state concern. Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act is called for along with affording same-sex couples in a civil union or domestic partnership all the federal rights that opposite-sex married couples have. There is also discussion of Don't Ask/Don't Tell and HIV/AIDS issues.

It could be a major sea change. No administration has ever embraced such a far-reaching equality agenda. We'll see if Congress goes for it after they take some action on the economy.

Bridges McRae indicted for violating Duanna Johnson's civil rights

The Commerical Appeal is reporting:

Former Memphis Police officer Bridges McRae, who was fired for the beating of a transgender woman, was indicted Tuesday on one count of civil-rights violations.

If convicted, McRae faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. . . .

The indictment alleges that McRae exercised unreasonable force, used a dangerous weapon and caused bodily injury to a person in his custody.

Further updates as they come.

A minor tribute to East Tennessee

I made the drive to Johnson City and back yesterday to meet with the TEP Tri-Cities committee. I've been in East Tennessee a lot this fall--two trips to Chattanooga, one to Knoxville, one to Sewanee (which isn't technically in East TN, but right on the edge), and now Johnson City.

It was a relaxing drive through a beautiful part of the state. The hills and trees make you want to stop the car and just run up in them and get lost for a day. I was reminded at almost every turn of how socially conservative the State is. First, every hour or so, your eyes meet a Zach Wamp billboard. It wasn't that long ago that he called homosexuality a "sickness." As I crossed into Roane County, I thought of the Ken Yager Becky Ruppe race and those radio ads opposing "gay marriage" that everyone had to listen to for weeks. And if you missed that, the number of religious (read "Evangelical) programs on the radio is hard to avoid as you're scanning through the channels. I have to say I don't blame Senator Yager a bit for going antiquing to escape the noise.

As I drove closer to and then through Knoxville I thought of the youth factor that has been everywhere in political news--the youth surge for Obama and all the twenty and thirty-somethings at the Prop 8 rallies in Tennessee and around the country. The face of the conservative movement in East Tennessee is also young. Naturally, I thought of Rep. Campfield and his enthusiasm for conservative principles and embrace of new media to join the conversation. As I drove further, I saw the sign for White Pine and thought of David Oatney, so I stopped for a quick bite to eat. Not much of a revenue boost to the town he loves so much to be sure, but it was the sign of respect I could manage on a quick trip. I continue to be impressed with his efforts to bring thoughtfulness to issues. Politically, he and I would agree on very little, but I love the fact that he has been involved in education at his parish. I suspect we would agree on a large chunk of theological matters. Driving on, I thought of Republican House leader Jason Mumpower. I didn't make it to Bristol, but he was on my mind. I thought of my college professor's lectures on Machiavelli and Leo Strauss and laughed as I wondered whether they should be updated to include Spider-Man, too.

And I wished as I drove on that thoughtful, young, successful, otherwise kind people like them didn't see our rights as a problem. And I hope it's not always so. In the mean time, I'm amazed at the work that our three committees in East Tennessee are doing. They share a great deal with their conservative counterparts. As the conversation in Tennessee moves along, I hope that will continue to become evident.

Paradigm shift in activism?

Some seem to think the Prop 8 protests indicate a big Yes.

Quoting one of them in the piece above:

The leaders of what is being billed as Stonewall 2.0 are not coming from large, established organizations. ... That this huge outpouring of organic outrage is not being channeled through official organizational channels has enormous implications.

Yes, it does. But what are the implications? Let's say that the Prop 8 protests are a factor in the eventual demise of the existing big national GLBT organizations. Won't this new movement eventually shift from charismatic, emotion-driven grassroots leadership to something more formalized with bureaucracy? I think it would have to in order to achieve its goals. Money still drives so much of the political process including the legislative process. If you're going to channel money, you have to do so lawfully. And that means structure that meets the requirements of state and federal law--the tax code and all that.

Furthermore, what began as a spontaneous movement is already developing an agenda focused on visibility and marriage. Since marriage remains a state prerogative, won't strategy beyond visibility be necessary at some point? That would seem to indicate that a national structure and leadership are necessary. After all, someone is determining what the goals, actions, and timing are, oh, and how the money is spent!

What the protests represent are a breakthrough in using the web to get people in every state to do approximately the same thing on the same day in a short amount of time. And that is definitely a significant breakthrough. But if such an effort is to be sustained to the point of having a real effect on law (and not just a way to channel justified rage), then it will take on some of the same structures as existing organizations.

And if marriage equality is on a different time trajectory in each state, will the new, centralized Web activism be patient enough to deal with 50 state legislatures or lengthy federal court battles? Either way you look at it, lawyers and lobbyists should not worry about being out of work. Their employers may change, though.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New York Times on the Duanna Johnson Case

Find the piece here.

Jonathan Cole, the Shelby County chairman of the Tennessee Equality Project, praised the Police Department as embracing the problem. But Mr. Cole said that Ms. Johnson’s killing demonstrated how much discrimination remained in Memphis.

“We’re a sleepy Southern town,” he said. “For the most part, I think people in the South treat each other well. But there are prejudices that people have, and those prejudices come out in ways that are often violent when no one is looking.”

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Memphis mourns Duanna Johnson

More than 50 people gathered in front of the flagpole at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Center on Sunday night to remember Duanna Johnson who was savagely murdered one week ago. The crowd lit candles and processed in silence down Cooper Street to the front steps of First Congregational Church. The Rev. Cheryl Cornish reminded the crowd that Duanna - like so many Biblical figures in the Old Testament - only lived to see the promise of justice from a distance without ever experiencing it. Only those that followed the old prophets experienced the promise.

I gave a short remembrance following the Rev. Cornish:

We gather here tonight to pay our respects to a brave woman whose life was cut short. Who cried out for justice, but never saw it. On the steps of this church, I met Duanna Johnson this past summer after the abuse she suffered was revealed to the public. I was struck by her gentle spirit and the gratefulness she expressed as members of our community stepped forward to support her struggle.

Duanna had the courage to demand respect from those who did not understand her and abused her. She galvanized our community by calling attention to the verbal and physical violence inflicted on people because of race, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. We can all learn from her life. We know that she did not have great means, but she never let anyone take away her dignity. She stood up for herself. She forced our city to reflect on the awful violence and ignorance that plagues our city. Her life moved our city’s leaders and the police to re-examine how it treats people who live at the margins of our society. More importantly, she gave us hope.

She gave hope to young children everywhere and in this city who wonder if there is anyone else out there like them who’s struggled with questions about gender or sexual identity. Children who have quietly endured suffering when no one hears their cries. They know they are not alone and that others have gone before them to pave the way to greater respect, dignity and freedom.

In Jewish tradition, it is said that one can give no greater gift than to bury the dead because it is a gift that can never be repaid. In fact, people from all over our nation have contributed to her family’s funeral expenses. But we can give more. Her life will mean even more to us if we dedicate ourselves to making Memphis a safe place for all. All of us - black and white, gay and straight, rich and poor, transgender or not - must continue her struggle by pressing our government and law enforcement agencies to treat all people with respect, fairness, and dignity.

Duanna is no longer with us in life. But her light will cast out the darkness if we tend the flame.

Amy Livingston of the Midsouth Peace and Justice Center, who organized the vigil, provided closing remarks for the evening with a challenge to remember Duanna by taking action for justice in our community. Those who gathered ended the evening with a tearful "We Shall Overcome."

May Duanna rest in peace and may justice be served to those who murdered and persecuted her.

Check TEP's Facebook page for more vigil photos.
UPDATE! Local media coverage of the vigil:

Everything I Know about Tennessee Politics...

I Learned at a Prop 8 Rally in Nashville:

Remembering Duanna Johnson

Duanna Johnson's funeral and visitation was yesterday and Commerical Appeal columnist Wendi Thomas was there. Read her column here.

There will be a Candlelight Vigil in her memory this evening at 6 PM in front of the flagpole at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center at 892 South Cooper Street.

Video of Nashville Prop 8 Rally by Val Reynolds

Thanks for sending it our way, Val!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tracking the Prop 8 rally coverage in Tennessee

This post will be updated as we find links to coverage of the Prop 8 rallies in Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis.

News sites:

Knoxville News Sentinel piece quoting Todd Cramer of the TEP Knox County Committee

Commercial Appeal piece covering the Memphis rally

WATE in Knoxville

NewsChannel5 in Nashville

Out & About Newspaper in Nashville piece that was actually written by Cole Wakefield, not the person who posted it.

The Advocate's blurb on Nashville

Blog posts:

Kimmaayy covers the Nashville protest with video
Egalia on the Nashville protest with links to Andrew Sullivan on Nashville and Chris Crain on Memphis. Crain was editor of the Vanderbilt Hustler before his involvement with Southern Voice and the Washington Blade.
Jim Maynard covers Memphis.
Andy Towle with Nashville pics, including a pic of that hot TEP banner!
Daily Kos picked us up on Nashville in their long list of cities

Photo collections:

Keith Hinkle
Out & About Newspaper

What Do We Want?

(post by TEP Foundation Board Memeber, Nancy VanReece)
Nashville came out in the cold drizzle to join dozens of other cities around the country for a demonstration.
What were we demonstrating? Support for each other, righteous indignation? Yes. But most off all, we were demonstrating solidarity.
It's one thing to live in a state such as Tennessee that forbids the equal right of marriage to all of its citizens, that's a a battle lost in 2006 that still stings. It is a whole other thing to remove rights already in place. That's what Prop 8 in California did and today, in solidarity the people that it effected were a single voice.

Gay and straight, married, single, black, white and brown, over 250,000 strong according to pledges across the country, today at 12:30pm central time, 1:30 eastern and 10:30am west -- We all with one voice said: What do we want? Equality. When do we want it? Now. (click to see video)

Memphians gather to protest Proposition 8

Nearly 200 people braved the cold and rainy weather in front of City Hall in downtown Memphis to express their solidarity with the many thousands of people protesting the passage of Proposition 8 in California. Many thanks to Amy Livingston of the Women's Action Coalition and the Midsouth Peace and Justice Center for organizing and promoting the event.

During the demonstration, I invited everyone to carry the cause forward by coming to Nashville on February 17 for Advancing Equality Day on the Hill. More than 25 people signed up to receive more information from TEP and the Shelby County Committee passed out flyers about AED.

Nashville Prop 8 Rally a Huge Success!

Hundreds of people gathered at the Metro Courthouse in Nashville today to protest California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, and to advocate for equality for Tennessee's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. Pictured above is Nashville Pride president Pam Wheeler with friends marching around the Public Square. More photos from the event can be found here.

I would put the number at close to 300. TEP signed up 62 people who weren't already on our list and we couldn't get to everyone, especially after the march started. People were still joining the event when I left at 1:45.

Representatives from the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition and the Nashville steering committee of the Human Rights Campaign were also on hand to support the rally. Carissa and her friends did an incredible job of organizing the event.

One of the most impressive aspects of the event was the number of young people who had never been involved in GLBT advocacy before. I would guess 75 percent of the participants were people I had never seen at any events before. I hope that they can turn their energy to efforts in Tennessee.

Cohen backs Clinton for Secretary of State

Congressman Steve Cohen's piece in Huffington Post.

I was an ardent supporter of Barack Obama during the heated primary season - in part because I agreed with his positions on the War in Iraq and on more aggressive diplomacy - but I whole-heartedly believe that Senator Clinton would make an exceptional Secretary of State. Senator Clinton's vast knowledge, experience representing our country and her finely honed skills of negotiation would serve this country well, and her presence within an Obama Administration would have an immediate, positive impact.

Well said! Clinton will not be afraid to raise the tough questions with her foreign minister counterparts and heads of state while imaginatively and pragmatically advancing U.S. interests abroad. I'm waiting for the Hillary haters to rear their heads. If she can fall in line and be a good soldier on the campaign trail, as she was, then I hope we can get through the next few days while president-elect Obama makes his decision without having to see the usual "bitch" and "witch" epithets all over the blogosphere.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Memphis rally against Proposition 8

Join Memphians as we participate the national movement of simultaneous protests against Proposition 8, the infamous ballot resolution that amended California's constitution to ban same-sex marriages. Speakers will address other restrictions on LGBT rights, including concerns for LGBT folks in the Midsouth. Bring signs, friends, and all your moral indignation!

Memphis Anti-Prop 8 Rally
Saturday, November 15
City Hall (125 N. Main)
12:30 PM

from Amy Livingston of the Women's Action Coalition.

Tennessee Prop 8 supporters revealed

Out & About Newspaper has the list of those who sent their anti-marriage equality dollars to California to keep gay people living in sin. Not really that many people, with Lee Beaman being the most "famous." I'm sure the folks at Lipscomb are proud.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Knoxville Prop 8 Rally is on!

Knoxville is joining cities around the country in solidarity with those in California whose right to marry is being threatened.

The TEP Knox County Committee/Human Rights Group is organizing the event. It takes place at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time at the World's Fair Park lawn.

Find details here.