In a few short weeks, the 108th Legislative Session of the State of Tennessee will begin. Though the 107th session was a roller coaster for LGBT residents in the State, whether it was in fighting anti-gay bills such as the aptly named “Don’t Say Gay” bill, or having Nashville’s contractor inclusive non-discrimination ordinance overturned by HB600, this next session is looking to be even worse. This past election brought to us a Government in which, because of last year’s redistricting, Democrats have been effectively shut out of Government. A fact which bodes ill for LGBT rights in the Volunteer State.
Because of the situation in the General Assembly, the main equality organization in the State – the Tennessee Equality Project – has recognized that to enact real change in an extremely hostile environment you have to have a comprehensive legislative framework. Though it still focuses on the nefarious bills that snake their way through the State Legislature, TEP has also decided to do extensive work in Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville, laying the groundwork in which City Governments will have the courage to stand up to the anti-gay GOP crusaders in Nashville. 2012 was an excellent year in this regard, as both Memphis and Knoxville joined Nashville in having a non-discrimination ordinance that protects city employees. In 2013, look for the cities of Tennessee to be the bastions of hope and change for LGBT residents.
Though I moved to Michigan for law school this past May, my heart and soul is still in Tennessee. Because of that, as situations arise within the General Assembly that require publicity, I will be speaking out on this blog for LGBT Tennesseans. Last year, my voice was effectively neutered as I worked for the Tennessee Senate (and hence was not allowed to blog about the politics in the State), but this year I have no such impediment. So expect logical, biting, and sometimes obnoxious blog posts this coming year, as the Tennessee GOP once again shows how backward they are to the rest of the nation.