Tag Archives: Tennessee Equality Project

Bully Bill Battle

Is Mark White feeling heat from the right?

Definitions are not the enemy.

As session lumbers on, most of the goofy distraction bills have either been passed, or passed up. Its time to take a look at some of the things we missed while we were being distracted, and bills that are coming up.

One of those issues is addressing the problem of bullying in a substantive way.

There are two competing bills before the General Assembly that are currently moving: HB 927 sponsored in the House by Karen Camper of Memphis, and HB 2122 sponsored in the House by Mark White of Memphis.

While both bills seek to address the issue of bullying…one does so in a much more specific and effective way.

Just a quick look at the summary for 927 vs. 2122, shows the difference between a bill that seeks to enumerate what bullying is, rather than dress up current (an ineffective) law with a bow and sending it on its way.

Below is a piece Lauren Lee from Fox13 in Memphis did on the bill. At the end is an interview with Michelle Bliss, who carefully deconstructs the differences between the two bills.

Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

For Rep. White to say, “If you define that bullying is someone’s expression of their sexual or gender identity, their perceived identity, then you set up a situation where, it may not be bullying to another person, they just have a different set of standards.” is disingenuous. The law defines all manner of undesirable activity in specific, sometimes graphic detail. We do this to ensure that individuals who engage in such undesirable activity can be held accountable for their actions.

By removing the specific language that defines what bullying is, and who the likely targets are, Rep. White is minimizing the issue, and placing thousands of children at risk, all for the sake of someone’s “different set of standards”. Taken to its logical conclusion, any manner of activities, from speeding to assault, or even more heinous violent crime could fall under that “different set of standards” that Rep. White seems to hold so dear, making prosecution of these crimes essentially impossible.

Rep. White’s decision to leave these definitions out of his bill means the current hodge podge of policy will continue, without any clarity or consistency, which also means it will not reduce or enact any real change.

In the end, his bill amounts to passing legislation for the sake of saying you’ve passed legislation on a hot topic isn’t what we send our legislators to Nashville to do. We expect them to make laws that will truly address the problems we face.

Contact Representative Mark White at rep.mark.white@capitol.tn.gov and ask him to support HB 927. Post your email to Facebook and Twitter and tag Tennessee Equality Project and State Representative Mark White in the post.

If you need help with an email, check out this post from TEP, its a good guide. Also check out http://www.stopbullying.gov.

If we want to protect our children from bullying, we have to have clear and consistent guidelines for what bullying is…not some mushy nondescript standard.

You can also email the members of the House Education Committee in support of HB 927. Their email addresses can be found here.

HB 927 is scheduled to be heard in the House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday at 3pm. HB 2122 is scheduled for the Education Committee on Tuesday at noon.

Legalizing Discrimination In Tennessee

gay bigotry

Why would our state government, riding high on another obvious ALEC bill, want to purposefully hurt gay people?

That is what is being proposed in a bill that the nation is talking about which has been coined  “Turn Away The Gays” bill. A bill that has no fiscal impact in this state and that is only designed to conquer and divide. A bill that is designed to hurt instead of help. A bill that seriously discriminates for the mere fact that it WANTS to discriminate.

Why would members of our house and senate want to legalize discrimination?

It’s hard to fathom. Last year it was the “Don’t Say Gay” bill? This year, we have a bill that would be gateway legislation on a curving path to more bigotry.

I direct you to David Cook’s excellent column from today that pretty much says it all.

“If this gets passed, it would legalize discrimination,” said Cooper. “I don’t know why people feel the need to discriminate against people who are not like them.”

Humanity is not monochromatic; our struggle is not against a Paint-By-Numbers Creator, who only makes plain Jane stuff, nor with a natural world that only operates with some single vision: just brown butterflies, only flat deserts, nothing but white people.

Life is magnificently different, and our struggle is to realize those who may not seem like us — the disabled or dyslexic, the dwarfs and giants, the transgendered and gay — belong just as fully at the American table as anyone else.

So if you’re out there, locked in your bedroom, searching the papers or Internet for some wisp of acceptance and community, then I hope you read this column, especially this last line.

Thank you. For pushing us towards a wider America, for reminding us that difference is beauty and beauty is truth, for the bravery of being yourself in a lonely world, thank … you.

Hatred isn’t pretty.

It’s an odd thing, the Tennessee GOP’s fascination with things that are really none of their business.

As Rep. Mike Turner said a couple of years ago:.

“They’re preoccupied with sex up here,” the House’s No. 2 Democrat told reporters at his party’s weekly availability. “They’re got a real thing with sex. We’re about ready to put the turbans on, I think, and put the women in burkas here if we keep going at this rate.”

The issue comes down to discriminating for the sake of discrimination. I will leave you with this:

Consider this: As Kansas was making news with its religious liberty bill, an older, white sportscaster with a Texas drawl became an Internet sensation with an impassioned editorial saying it shouldn’t matter if an NFL player is gay. And in the same week, a federal judge declared Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, a decision reached recently by judges in three other states.

The dominoes are falling in favor of LGBT rights and, in large part because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year to strike down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, judges are finding state bans on gay marriage legally untenable.

This is why we’re seeing actions like those of the Kansas legislators. Joining the chorus, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal gave a fiery speech to other conservatives last week, claiming same-sex marriage is part of a “silent war on religious liberty.”

But the religious liberty argument will be a tough sell.

A 2012 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 56 percent of Americans don’t believe religious liberties are under attack. Among millennials, a whopping 73 percent said they don’t perceive any threat.

There’s a historical problem with that argument as well. Opponents of integration in the 1960s argued a violation of religious beliefs, claiming God didn’t want races mixing.

People remember that, and it makes the religious liberties argument against same-sex marriage reek of desperation.

Watching these policies is hard enough, but as a gay woman who has been in a healthy and loving relationship for the past 18 years, it just hurts.

For more information on the upcoming legislation, be sure to keep up-to-date with the Tennessee Equality Project.

Morning Coffee – Going Back to Bed Edition

I'm sure the sensation is cooling, but cleanup must be a real pain.

It’s been an exasperatin’ week. I haven’t written anything over here since Tuesday. A 50 hour work week on top of a research project that’s dominating what little spare time I have will do that to ya. I’m not complaining, just explaining. Sorry the writing has been so scarce this week, but big thanks to Steve Steffens for helping out. As Trace noted yesterday, we’ve both been slammed. Never underestimate the power of redneck ninjas, that’s all I’m saying.

Today’s the last day to early vote. If you haven’t done it already, please get out there and vote. Voting is the simplest way to make your voice heard. Early voting locations in Shelby County can be found here, for the rest of the state go here and select your county of residence.

Looking at my reader, I see there’s a lot I’ve missed this week. I’m not going to even try to cover all of it here, but the whole Basil Marceaux thing is so over the top that I’m doing a giddy dance in my chair. Wow, how did I miss this?

So here’s the deal. I’ve got over 3000 posts to sift through since Wednesday, and I really want to go back to bed. Some of these may be duplications, so be warned. Here are some highlights of the week gone by.

On to the Coffee!

GOP Gubernatorial race? RoaneViews calls it the Triangular firing Squad.

Basil Marceaux, the AP interview.

The Tri-State Defender endorses Steve Cohen in TN-09.

Mediaverse looks at calls on the Commercial Appeal to rescind its endorsement of Bill Oldham over potential Hatch Act violations.

Van Turner’s had a busy week, including smacking down an impostor posing as the Shelby County Democratic Party.

Some Republican legislators went to Arizona to genuflect to their nativist legislation. State Senator Eric Stewart is not impressed. Braisted has some additional coverage.

Memphis mourns the passing of Lorenzen Wright. Questions about the fragmentation of the county’s 911 system need to be addressed…pronto.

Grand Divisions is looking at LGBT workplace protections for City of Memphis employees and points to one of Memphis’ finest who may be vulnerable.

Shirley Sherrod is suing, and I couldn’t be happier.

Nicholas Beadle pens his last post at the Jackson Sun politics blog. He’ll be missed, but you can keep up with him here.

Go back to bed. Seriously, whatever it is you think you need to do is less important than sleeping right about now. I promise, it’ll be ok.

The Sun Was Screaming

The fireball in the sky has been wanting a lot of attention these past few days. Ever closer, it has bared down on us with mocking and cruel insistence.  Some quick words of advice about the heat: if you know anyone that can’t get out easily (like an elderly neighbor or the like) go check on them. The heat index can kill people and it’s not going to get any better anytime soon. Outside animals need to stay just as hydrated as people do so make sure there is access to water and shade.

I’m not a fan of the heat. Never have been even when I was a kid. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything wrong with a beach or the joyful rays of a kinder sun gently caressing our skin, but the heat that we have right now wants no romance. It’s an angry, bitter sphere demanding worship and will not be ignored. (Why didn’t I move to Brattleboro, VT when I had the chance? Why do I make such bad decision?)

Lots of blogging today all around the state so let’s drink a bottle of Gatorade and dive right in.

Pride pics and commentary from Nashville at Grand Divisions.

Ralph Macchio wants to be bad and by bad I mean cuddle.

The bottomless pit of frustration is a good way to put it. It would be nice for people to, you know, be treated like grown ups.

We wrote about words and actions earlier today. Sean Braisted is doing that today as well.

Have you considered fostering an animal? Animal Shak with our pal Kathy T. has some words of wisdom on this.

Keith Talley of the TNDP is calling candidate Stephen Fincher out about BP.

We are a blog and we must CATBLOG. Megan is right, Link does have crazy eyes.

Pants on the Ground! Pants on the Ground? Acting like a …? Wait, no pants at all? This to me is pretty funny. Not as big of a deal as Julia Hurley thinks it is but funny nonetheless.

Betsy gets the line of the day for this: When the people who are supposed to be behind the scenes step forward to interject their own opinions into matters, it makes me feel like they have no confidence in their candidates’ ability to deliver these points.

Morning Coffee – First Week Without the Lege Edition

This session left the state battered and bruised, but still breathing

It seems that its milestone time around here. Last week we passed out 1000th post, then we had our first speaking gig and now we have our first full week without the shenanigans of the legislature.

While that may seem like a big change for a little blog that’s spent a lot of time talking about state politics, I think all of us are glad the state is out of harms way…for now.

Like I’m sure someone said last week, (though my hazy mind can’t remember who) this means we’re in full on campaign mode. With just 7 weeks until state and federal primary elections the action is just starting up, particularly in the Republican Gubernatorial primary race.

But we’ll get on with that later, right now it’s time for some coffee!

Like we said, the race is on, but hopefully unlike the George Jones song, the winner won’t be losing all.

Here in the Shelby County race for Mayor there was some action. TNDP Chair Chip Forrester called a poll released by Republican Mark Luttrell bogus, and said that Luttrell was posing as a Democrat. An independent poll disputes the poll released by Luttrell and says the race is all tied up.

Grand Divisions the blog of the Tennessee Equality Project is trying to whip up awareness of the upcoming primary.

Richard at Mediaverse notes a rumor that has CA Editorials Editor leaving to become Chair of the Department of Journalism at the University of Memphis. That’s a pretty huge move. Regardless of how it works out, we wish him well.

And finally, this isn’t really political, but deals with the other subject you’re not supposed to talk about in a bar, religion. Southern Beale has an interesting post on what happens when we die.

Al-righty folks, the week’s just getting started. Make it a good one!

‘Students Are “Learning” Somewhere Else’

Chris Sanders at Grand Divisions schools the Family Action Council regarding a recent story in the Tennesseans about Nashville Cares.

… the Family Action Council of Tennessee’s continued screeching about a service learning project offered by Nashville CARES will leave students neither wise nor innocent. And even though the Tennessean says that Metro Schools and Nashville CARES are working together to determine how or whether to go forward with the project, Family Action isn’t giving up.

In a message to members this week, Family Action president David Fowler noted, “While AIDS is an awful disease and we would never wish anyone to suffer from it, we also should not want our young people to be exposed to graphic demonstrations of sexual acts for which our bodies were not designed and which are not healthful.” Besides that, the class might “make most people blush or cringe.

Where to begin? The basic false assumption is that the service learning class is teaching students TO use their bodies in certain ways that Family Action considers contrary to design. Teens in Tennessee may or may not be having sex more than teens in other states, but the teen birthrate in Tennessee is significantly higher than the U.S. rate as a whole. Teens in Tennessee are certainly getting STDs. So it’s pretty clear that projects like the one Nashville CARES is offering are not teaching students TO have sex. Students are “learning” somewhere else.

A Letter From The Tennessee Equality Project

From Chris and the TEP, whom needs some voice on the Don’t Say Gay bill.

But there is another piece of legislation–what we call the Don’t Say Gay bill–that is moving fast this week in the TN House K-12 education subcommittee and the TN Senate Education committee.

***Please, go to this campaign http://www.bit.ly/c9Tvvt and click both buttons–one for the Senate Ed committee and one for the House k-12 committee to let the members know you oppose this bill.

This bill is harmful and spiteful. Children are often bullied in school because of real or perceived differences. Imagine if teachers and counselors weren’t able to talk with children and provide them with information about these issues.

The bill sets a bad precedent. Local schools and the State Department of Education know what kind of curriculum our state needs. Do we want to set a precedent for legislators to inject politics into our text book decisions and teacher lesson plans?

I apologize if you’ve already received this information and I want to thank you if you’ve already responded to this action alert. We are determined that the Legislature hear from as many citizens as possible on this bill. Go here now to participate: http://www.bit.ly/c9Tvvt .

Thank you,
Chris Sanders
Board Chair
Tennessee Equality Project

Giving Props

Grand Divisions is applauding some Metro Council persons in Nashville for work on the non-discrimination ordinance.

Metro Council Members Megan Barry, Ronnie Steine, and Erik Cole, three of the sponsors of 2009 Metro non-discrimination ordinance, have written to the Metro Human Relations Commission urging them expand their educational programming and data collection on gender identity discrimination in the areas of housing and employment in the private sector. While not enforceable in the sense of compelling private employers and providers of housing to change their policies or stop discriminating, it is an advance in the sense that it would allow us to achieve a better picture of the discrimination occurring in Davidson County.

In contrast, the Metro non-discrimination ordinance dealt with employment discrimination in Metro government. It prohibits such discrimination and is enforceable.

TEP thanks and applauds Council Members Barry, Steine, and Cole for their action in seeking to clarify the authority of the Metro Human Relations Commission to collect data and offer educational programming on the problem of discrimination based on gender identity.

Advance Equality Day

Tomorrow will see the Tennessee Equality Project on the Hill in Nashville.

The Flyer also reports:

On Tuesday, March 2nd, gay rights advocates will gather in Nashville to push for pro-LGBT legislation on the Tennessee Equality Project’s (TEP) annual Advancing Equality Day.

Specifically, advocates will be lobbying against a proposed bill that would prevent unmarried couples from adopting. They’ll also be working to expand hate crimes protections.