LGBT

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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Newly Elected U.S. Rep. Green Has History of Supporting Anti-LGBTQ Legislation

Soon-to-be congressman and physician Mark Green — who came under fire last week for comments linking vaccines to autism — will likely bring other controversial platforms to the hill, the Tennessean reports. Green, who will assume the seat vacated by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, was forced to withdraw as a candidate for Secretary of the Army because of statements he made about LGBT persons and Muslims. As a Tennessee state senator, he sponsored a bill allowing mental health providers to refuse to treat LGBT patients and supported a "bathroom bill" that would prohibit students from using public facilities that correspond with their identified sex.

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Hawkins County Board of Education Approves Gay-Straight Alliance for High School

The Hawkins County Board of Education has voted in favor of a Gay-Straight Alliance student organization at one of its high schools, despite strong opposition from one of its members, the Kingsport Time-News reports. The organization was approved 5-1, with the lone holdout being Tecky Hicks who is a pastor at the First Baptist Church in Surgoinsville. Hicks, regarding the constitutionality of denying the group, was reported as saying the Bible supersedes the Constitution of the U.S., the Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, school board policy, the state constitution “and everything else.” Several board members voiced concerns that denying the alliance would open the county up to lawsuits, with County Attorney Jim Phillips and the board’s lawyer Lawrence Giordano agreeing that the county would likely lose in litigation. Board member Chris Christian said of the organization, “Could it provide a venue to prevent tragedy, to protect this child who has no family support or no one to reach out to? That’s why I serve on this board, for the betterment of the children. I’m not questioning what these kids are going to do, but if there’s an ounce of hope of saving someone, a child, I would have to vote yes.”

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Several LGBT-related Petitions to be Considered by U.S. Supreme Court

Several petitions calling for a for a rollback of LGBT rights or a reversal of decisions from lower courts affirming LGBT rights are currently awaiting review by the U.S. Supreme Court, The Washington Blade reports. Petitions filed include President Trump’s transgender military ban, whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to discrimination of LGBT persons in the workforce and a policy allowing transgender kids to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity, among others. The petitions were set for review on Monday, however, the Supreme Court’s website indicates that they were removed from the docket on Monday and will be considered at a later date.

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