Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tennessee Marriage Equality Case to Be Heard in Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Ijpe DeKoe and Thom Kostura
  • Ijpe DeKoe and Thom Kostura

The largest number of marriage equality cases to be heard in a single day will include a case from Tennessee and will be taken up by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on August 6th.

Other cases heard that day will include two cases from Kentucky, one from Michigan, and two from Ohio. The Tennessee case is Tanco Vs. Haslam, which seeks to recognize the same-sex marriages of three couples from Tennessee. One of those couples — Ijpe DeKoe and Thom Kostura — is from Memphis (read more about their story here).

This will be the fourth argument to be heard by a federal circuit court since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last summer. Since that decision last June, every court that has considered marriage equality cases has ruled in favor of freedom to marry for same-sex couples. Those courts include federal and state courts in Utah, Ohio, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Oral arguments will begin at 1 p.m. (Eastern time) at the Potter Stewart Courthouse in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Friends for Life Art Dash

Posted By on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 3:10 PM

It sounds like the premise for a reality TV show challenge: Put a bunch of art lovers in a room with just as many pieces of art, serve them cocktails and snacks, and then set them loose to dash for their favorite pieces. Everyone gets to take home a piece of art, but whether or not the contestants get their favorite depends on how fast they are.

That's basically the idea for the first-ever Friends for Life Art Dash. For the $100 ticket price, each participant will have their shot at grabbing their favorite piece of art, all of which was donated by local artists. Everyone who purchases the $100 ticket is guaranteed to leave with a piece of art.

Those who would like to attend but can't spare the $100 ticket price can get an Art Dash Friends ticket for $25. Both the $100 and the $25 tickets come with complimentary hors d’oeuvres, wine, and beer.

All proceeds will benefit Friends for Life's work to provide education, housing, food, transportation, and healthy life skills training to people living with HIV/AIDS.

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Tickets may be purchased here.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

TEP Ice Cream Social

Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 12:56 PM

For 10 years, the Tennessee Equality Project has been lobbying for equal rights in the state, and over the decade, the organization has garnered a number of wins, including the passage of non-discrimination ordinances in Memphis and Shelby County and several other Tennessee cities.

TEP will be celebrating 10 years during its annual Ice Cream Social this Sunday, July 20th at Neshoba Church (7350 Raleigh Lagrange). For $10 per individual or $25 per family, guests can enjoy all the ice cream they can eat.

For the kids, Magic Mr. Nick will be onsite twisting up balloon animals and swords.

For more information or to RSVP, check out the event's Facebook page.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Town Hall Meeting with Trans Equality Advocate Mara Keisling

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 3:39 PM

Mara Keisling
  • Mara Keisling

On Sunday, July 20th at 6 p.m., Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, will speak at the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) about the need for trans-inclusive equality legislation.

Keisling, a transgender woman and parent, founded the National Center for Transgender Equality in 2003. She is a graduate of Penn State University. She did her graduate work on American government at Harvard. Keisling has almost 25 years of professional experience in social marketing and opinion research.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Chef John Currence's Big Gay Mississippi Protest Dinner

Posted By on Wed, Jul 2, 2014 at 11:57 AM

John Currence
  • John Currence

Buzzfeed posted a lengthy article by Wyatt Williams yesterday chronicling Oxford, Mississippi chef John Currence's recent Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table dinner in New York City.

You can read the full article here, but here's a little background. Last month, the James Beard Award-winning chef from Oxford's acclaimed City Grocery restaurant was invited by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant to cook in New York City for a lunch meeting between the Mississippi Development Agency (MDA) and site selectors for major corporations. The goal of the luncheon was to woo these corporations to move some or all of their operations to Mississippi.

But Bryant had recently signed into law Mississippi's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which went into effect on July 1st and provides "that state action shall not substantially burden a person’s right to the exercise of religion.” Critics of the bill fear it will be used to protect business owners who choose to discriminate against LGBT customers by claiming that serving those customers would violate their religious freedom.

Currence has been outspoken about the bill. In a New York Times article, Currence was quoted as saying, "The law sends a terrible message about the state of consciousness in the state of Mississippi. We are not going to sit idly by and watch Jim Crow get revived in our state.”

But rather than turn down Bryant's invitation to cook for the MDA dinner in New York City, Currence went through with lunch. But he, Memphis chef Kelly English, and a handful of other celebrity chefs scheduled a protest dinner called the Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table the next day in New York City. The Buzzfeed story recounts that affair (hint: Morgan Freeman made an appearance) in splendid detail.

According to Williams' story, when Bryant got word of Currence's Big Gay Welcome Table, he wasn't pleased. Here's an excerpt:

The response from the governor’s office was swift. The morning the news broke about the Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table, Currence said, “I got a phone call, a dressing down by the governor’s office — they wanted to know why I would embarrass the governor like this. And then it fucking dawned on me: You assholes don’t fucking talk to me like a sixth-grader in the principal’s office, I’m a 50-year-old man. More to the point, I’m on the right fucking side of this thing. All you assholes have to do is come to dinner.”

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