Human Rights Campaign to Honor Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization — will honor Jennifer Nettles of the award-winning country music duo Sugarland at its 2019 HRC Nashville Dinner. Nettles will receive the HRC Ally for Equality Award for her support of the community and her work to raise awareness of the impact of hate speech and the importance of supporting LGBTQ youth. This annual staple will bring together hundreds of Nashville’s most active advocates while raising funds, which will be used to fight for LGBTQ equality. Email Nick Morrow for more info.

When: Saturday, March 2, 6:30 p.m., CST
Where: Renaissance Nashville Hotel, 611 Commerce St., Nashville
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Visit the TBA at the Nashville Pride Festival (June 22-23)

The TBA LGBT Section will hold its annual forum to coincide with the 2019 Nashville Pride Festival June 22-23. In addition to offering programming for lawyers and advocates who deal with issues affecting the LBGTQ community, the section will have a booth at the festival to provide legal resources and information of import to LGBTQ persons in the state. The section’s executive council would like section input on topics for this resource, or any ideas that they might have regarding TBA’s participation in the festival. Volunteers are also needed to staff the booth. Please send ideas, comments or volunteer interest to Section Coordinator Jarod Word.

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Tennessee General Assembly to Consider Religious Exemptions for Adoption Agencies

The Tennessee General Assembly is set to consider several bills that would allow agencies to deny adoptions to gay couples based on religious objections, The Tennessean reports. Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, and Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, have sponsored one such bill, HB1152/SB0848, which as introduced specifies that a child-placing agency shall not be required to provide adoption services that conflict with the agency's sincerely held religious beliefs. It joins similar bills sponsored Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, and Sen. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon. The measures are comparable to legislation passed in Kansas and Oklahoma just last year. When asked about his bill, Hensley said: "There's a lot of other adoption agencies that are not religious-based … There's certainly other options for people who want to adopt."

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Tennessee Lawmakers Reintroduce Legislation to Prohibit Same-Sex Marriage

Tennessee lawmakers are again taking on same-sex marriages, The Tennessean reports. Sponsored by by Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) and Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station), HB1369/SB1282 — known as the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act — would prohibit government officials from recognizing any court ruling that affirms same-sex unions, prevent them from being arrested for noncompliance of those orders and require the Tennessee attorney general to defend the state's law on marriage in any resulting court challenge. Legislation of this nature has been introduced multiple times since the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, most recently failing to advance in the last legislative session. 

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Nashville Mayor's Order Recognizes LGBT-Owned Businesses

Nashville Mayor David Briley recently signed an executive order that recognizes LGBT-owned businesses as a category for Metro procurement and contracting, The Nashville Business Journal reports. Briley’s order aligns with recent changes announced by the Nashville Metro Council, which intends to address complaints that minority-owned businesses are not equally benefitting from the city’s economic growth. “It’s my job as mayor to make sure that everyone in our city, regardless of who they are or where they come from, has equal access to economic opportunities,” said Briley. “Today, we’ve taken an important step towards better equity for LGBT-owned businesses in Nashville.” Nashville will be the first city in the South to instill such a policy.
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Newly Elected Congresswoman Flies Pride Flag on Capitol Hill

Newly elected Virginia congresswoman Jennifer Wexton hung a transgender pride flag alongside the Virginia state flag outside her D.C. office to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community, Time reports. Wexton, who represents Virginia’s 10th District, was a vocal supporter of the LGBTQ community during her time in the Virginia General Assembly and vows to continue fighting for equality as a U.S. congresswoman. When asked about the flag, Wexton said, “The trans community has been under attack … I wanted to show my solidarity because we are talking about my friends and family.” The 116th Congress will be the most diverse in history, with 10 out, gay members sworn in last week.

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Pelosi Intends to Advance Equality Act as House Speaker

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is making the Equality Act -- which would ban anti-LGBT discrimination under federal law -- a priority in legislation she hopes to pass in an upcoming session, The Washington Blade reports. While Pelosi maintains the measure has bipartisan support, the two Republicans who co-sponsored the bill are no longer in Congress. When asked by the Blade what she meant by bipartisan support, Pelosi replied: “the bill has and will continue to have bipartisan support.” The act is expected to cruise through the Democratic House but will likely face an uphill battle in the Senate.

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Drag Queen Story Hour Draws Protesters in Cookeville

A "drag queen story hour" held at the Putnam County Library drew over 100 protesters on Saturday, the Cookeville Herald-Citizen reports. Drag Queen Story Hours are programming where drag queens read stories to children in libraries, schools and bookstores in an effort to familiarize children with people who do not fall into traditional gender designations and provide them with positive gay role models. Protesters arrived from two different religious groups — one audibly denouncing the story hour saying, "the Bible says if you're not obedient, you will be destroyed" and another expressing that while they did not agree with the first group’s approach, they did feel that the library should not be used for the event. This was the second Drag Queen Story Hour held at the Putnam County Library, which is not a sponsor of the event, but maintains that the group is welcome to continue using its space if the library rules are followed.

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LGBT Section to Hold Forum in Conjunction With Pride Festival

The TBA LGBT Section Executive Council has voted to hold its annual forum the Friday preceding the 2019 Nashville Pride Festival. Though traditionally held in September, council members believe that the move will foster collaboration with community partners and allow forum attendees to take advantage of the fun and activities surrounding the festival. Save the date, you don’t want to miss what guarantees to be an insightful forum and one of the nation’s premier Pride celebrations! Stay tuned for more info.
When: Friday, June 21
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, Nashville
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Masterpiece Cakeshop Owner Returns to Court

The Colorado cake baker who refused service to a gay couple on religious grounds is back in court, NBC News reports. Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, is suing the state of Colorado and attempting to halt actions against him after another allegation of discrimination by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In this case, Phillips refused to bake a cake for Denver attorney Autumn Scardina’s gender transition celebration. Scardina ordered the cake the same day the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear Phillips' appeal of the previous ruling against him. Phillips’ lawyers maintain that the state is treating him with hostility because of his Christian faith and pressing a complaint that they call an "obvious setup." The Supreme Court in June ruled that the Colorado commission showed anti-religious bias when previously sanctioning Phillips for refusing to make a cake, deciding 7-2 that it violated Phillips' First Amendment rights. You can view the initial complaint regarding the current suit here.

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