Tuesday, September 10, 2019

OUTMemphis, TEP Host Mayoral Town Halls

Posted By on Tue, Sep 10, 2019 at 11:05 AM

Flags fly over OUTMemphis. - BIANCA PHILLIPS
  • Bianca Phillips
  • Flags fly over OUTMemphis.

Mayoral candidates will stump at events hosted by OUTMemphis and the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) starting tonight (Tuesday, September 10th) at OUTMemphis.

Each town-hall-style event will be moderated by OUTMemphis executive director Molly Quinn. Each will feature a question-and-answer session with the candidate and a meet-and-greet reception after that. All events are open to all ages and all are free and open to the public. 

Here’s what OUTMemphis and TEP say about the events:

”LGBTQ+ individuals live in every ZIP code, are represented in every race, ethnicity, ability level, religion, and age regardless of socio-economic status, citizenship, or education level.

“LGBTQ Southerners are adversely affected by the limitations in protections and services in health, housing, laws, spiritual resources, and education resources.

”In the 2019 mayoral race, the legal protections, health and wellness, and civic culture for LGBTQ people is vital to the future of Memphis.

“Bring your questions and concerns. Don’t miss this essential opportunity to voice the unique needs and ambitions of LGBTQ Memphians to our future mayor!”

Here is the schedule for the events so far:

Tami Sawyer
Tuesday, September 10th, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Lemichael Wilson
Tuesday, September 12th, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Jim Strickland
Tuesday, September 24th, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m.
The presentation begins at 5pm.

Where: OUTMemphis, 892 S. Cooper Street.

The groups say all filed candidates running for mayor this year have been invited to speak at these events. If accepted later, additional dates will be added. Any candidate who does not appear at an event, “chose to decline our invitation.”

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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Groups Want Tennessee DA Disbarred on Anti-LGBTQ Stance

Posted By on Wed, Sep 4, 2019 at 3:23 PM

Tennessee gay rights groups are calling for a Tennessee District Attorney to be disbarred for saying he issues lower charges for same-sex domestic assault cases and wouldn’t prosecute Tennessee county clerks who deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 
  • Northcott

Lambda Legal, Tennessee Equality Project, and the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center of Rutherford County filed a formal complaint last week against Coffee County District Attorney General Craig Northcott. The complaint was lodged with the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, which oversees attorneys in the state.

The groups claimed that Northcott made public statements that he does not file domestic assault charges if the violence occurred between same-sex spouses, does not recognize “homosexual marriage,” and would not prosecute those county clerks.

“Coffee County DA Craig Northcott has denied the validity of same-sex marriages and the equal protection of the law to LGBT people,” said Ethan Rice, senior attorney for the Fair Courts Project at Lambda Legal. “Such conduct violates ethics rules protecting citizens from bias and has no place within the very office designated to enforce the law of the land.

“Keeping DA Northcott in office will have a chilling effect on the willingness of LGBT people to seek justice and protection. District Attorney Northcott’s public comments revealed not only a bias against LGBT people but that he has made discriminatory charging decisions against an entire class of people and intends to continue to do so.”
Last year, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) reported 1,424 cases of domestic violence in same-sex relationships, according to the groups. The TBI’s 2018 Tennessee Hate Crime Report said 21.9 percent of all hate crimes last year were motivated by sexual bias, which includes crimes against LGBT and gender non-conforming people. Tennessee is home to about 130,000 LGBT adults, according to a report from the Williams Institute, and nearly 25 percent of those are people of color.

The groups said Northcott’s comments may deter LGBT people from reporting domestic assault, hate crimes, or other violence against them and create an obstacle to accessing the criminal legal system.

"LGBTQ people experiencing domestic violence are among the most vulnerable populations in Tennessee,” said Christopher Sanders, executive director of Tennessee Equality Project and Tennessee Equality Project Foundation. “Prosecutors have a duty to treat their cases with the same gravity as all other cases. 

“Discrimination in prosecution endangers our community and erodes the public trust in the criminal justice system.

Northcott’s statements were made during March 2018 in a presentation he gave called “The Local Church’s Role in Government” at New Mexico’s Chafer Theological Seminary Bible Conference.

He said he charges defendants with simple assault when a domestic violence incident occurs within the marriage of a same-sex couple, rather than the charge of domestic assault that he files when the incident occurs in the marriage of a different-sex couple.

Simple assault is a lesser charge with reduced punishment implications. The groups argued that Northcott is stripping LGBT domestic assault victims of the protections given with the elevated charge of domestic assault.
Northcott said domestic violence charges are to recognize and protect the “sanctity of marriage” but “there’s no marriage to protect” when it comes to same-sex marriages.

“We understand ‘domestic’ is not confined to marital status and feel it is important to advocate for all victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking regardless of race, color, national origin, religion (including religious belief), sex, gender identity (including gender expression and gender identity), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family or parental status, or socioeconomic status,” said Karen Lampert, executive director of the Tennessee-based Domestic Violence Program & Sexual Assault Services. “Denying, limiting, or disbelieving a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking further empowers an abuser, increases danger of lethality, and perpetuates a societal crime that can be prevented”
Northcott also said county clerks should not “succumb” to the rule of law” when it comes to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Instead, they should “stand on God’s truth” and he would not prosecute them for it. Further, he said he would pat the clerk on the back and give them hugs.

Read the formal complaint here.

Late last month, a group of about 300 Tennessee lawyers wrote the board asking for an investigation of Northcott on his statements. The Council on American-Islamic Relations filed another charge abasing Northcott after he said Muslims were inherently evil.

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Monday, August 12, 2019

Tennessee Equality Project: Titans and Ranked Choice Voting

Posted By on Mon, Aug 12, 2019 at 2:16 PM


Want to watch a Tennessee Titans home game and support the LGBTQ community? Well, now you can.

This year, the Titans will give $10 of each ticket sold on select home games to the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP). But there is a bit of work you have to do first.

When you’re buying your tickets, visit the Titans’ fundraiser site first. Select your game (Patriots and Steelers in the pre-season!) and enter the code “TEP” at checkout.

Actor Jennifer Lawrence in a 2018 ad in support of ranked choice voting in Tennessee.
  • Actor Jennifer Lawrence in a 2018 ad in support of ranked choice voting in Tennessee.

TEP will also host a discussion in Memphis about Ranked Choice Voting.

Voters approved the voting method in 2008 but it was not implemented. Voters approved the method, again, in 2018. But its implementation is stymied by state officials and a pending lawsuit. Officials don’t believe the issue will be resolved in time for the citywide elections here in October.

The TEP event will feature a ranked-choice-voting ballot demonstration from Aaron Fowles of Ranked Choice Voting Tennessee. Basically, Fowles will show attendees just how a ballot would look (and how you’d use it) if ranked choice voting were approved here.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

CHOICES Receives Grant to Support LGBTQ Health Care

Posted By on Wed, Aug 7, 2019 at 12:10 PM

CHOICES' main clinic on Poplar - FACEBOOK/CHOICES
  • Facebook/CHOICES
  • CHOICES' main clinic on Poplar

CHOICES: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health is receiving a $5,000 grant to assist in its efforts to transform LGBTQ health equity in the South.

CHOICES, a non-profit that offers reproductive health care services here, including transgender healthcare, is one of four recipients of the community grant.

The Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE), an Asheville, North Carolina-based organization working to improve LGBTQ equality in all areas, also awarded grants to organizations in Asheville, Greenville, South Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia.

CSE awarded a total of $30,000 to CHOICES and the other three organizations in an effort to “promote innovations in providing health care to better serve LGBTQ Southerners.”

“The infusion of funding to organizations on the leading edge of serving LBGTQ Southerners is designed to support new models in the South that increase access to care and ensure that people are treated with dignity and respect in health care settings,” a statement from CSE reads.

More than one third of all LGBTQ Americans live in the South, where they experience “disproportionate health disparities,” according to the group.

“The South is the epicenter for the modern HIV crisis in the United States, particularly for transgender women of color and black men who have sex with men,” CSE’s statement continues. “Transgender and non-binary Southerners are frequently confronted with ignorance or discrimination while seeking care.”

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of CSE said health care is a “human right that is fundamental to being able to survive and thrive.” The goal is for the grant recipients to use “innovation and grit to create new models to help Southern LGBTQ people access the care they need and deserve,” Beach-Ferrara adds.

With the grant, CHOICES plans to provide free sexually-transmitted infections (STI) testing, education, and referrals to LGBTQ patients through a pilot program in partnership with OUTMemphis.

“With funds from the Southern Equality Fund, CHOICES is excited to work with our local partner to provide free STI testing and linkage to care for LGBTQ persons in Memphis,” Katy Leopard, assistant director of CHOICES, said.

Currently, CHOICES provides wellness exams to LGBTQ patients that include breast exams, birth control consultation, HIV testing, hormone management, and overall health evaluations.

Leopard said the clinic has nearly 200 transgender patients in the Mid-South area and that it can be difficult for those patients to find care elsewhere in Memphis.

“It’s very difficult for that population to find caring providers who ask questions in the right way and don’t ask unnecessary questions,” Leopard said. “A lot of our transgender patients have been wronged by the healthcare system. So they have a real wariness when coming to see a healthcare provider at all. So the fact that they see CHOICES as a place where they can come and be respected and valued is really big.”

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Monday, July 15, 2019

New Grant Up For LGBTQ-Friendly Nonprofits

Posted By on Mon, Jul 15, 2019 at 1:38 PM

  • Focus Mid-South/Facebook

Is your nonprofit organization super friendly to the LGBTQ+ community?

Could it use $20,000 in marketing, advertising, and some cold, hard cash?

Sounds like you should apply for the first-ever Focus Center Foundation grant. That grant is up for grabs now from the folks behind the Focus Awards and "Focus Magazine."  

To enter, nonprofits must prove they are, in fact, registered nonprofit organizations. The winning organization “must honor the mission, values, and vision of 'Focus Magazine' and the Focus Center Foundation.”
  • Focus Mid-South/Facebook

Here’s the mission statement at "Focus Magazine":

“Focus Magazine will promote LGBT inclusivity through dignified delivery of content that is relevant to LGBT persons; editorial and advertising content will be included at the discretion of the publisher to assure thoughtful and respectful content for all: LGBT and straight.

Focus Magazine will be no-or-low-cost to its readers; it’s free online and locally in print, and available regionally in print via low-cost mail subscription, thereby removing access barriers.”

Organizations must also submit their nondiscrimination policies ”effectively in place and enforced.”

The prize package includes $20,000 in marketing, advertising, and a cash prize provided by Ray Rico Freelance, Focus Mid-South Magazine, and the Focus Center Foundation.

“One of the biggest pain points for nonprofits is the lack of funding for marketing and advertising locally,” said Rico, owner of Ray Rico Freelance and publisher of Focus Magazine. “We aim to help fill that need.”

Applications are being accepted online only. The deadline for applications is Sunday, August 4th at 11:59 p.m.

The applications will first be judged during a social media and online voting period from August 7th through 14th. Finalists will be determined and a five-judge panel will review these finalists and vote for their favorites. The online vote counts 25 percent, while the judges’ votes count 75 percent towards the total score. One winner and one runner-up will be chosen.

Announcement of the winner will be made on Friday, August 23rd at the Focus Awards. If the winner is not present at the event, the prize will go to the runner up.

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Friday, June 28, 2019

Weekender: Queer Fest 2, Big Top Tease, Pride at The Pump

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2019 at 10:18 AM


Memphis Queer Fest 2, Day 2
7 p.m.

7 p.m. — Hormonal Imbalance
7:45 p.m. — Nefarious Damn Thing
8:20 p.m. — Boyfriend
9:00 p.m. — Androids of Ex-Lovers
9:40 p.m.— Tom Violence
10:20 p.m. — Beg
11:00 p.m. — Waxjaw
11:40 p.m. — Risky Whispers


Big Top Tease: Volume II
Dru’s Place
9 p.m.

“QCG Productions will be taking the stage at Dru’s Place for a night you will not want to miss! There will be circus acts, dance, fire, acro, and more! Come see the sexy side of the circus and have. Fun night with us!”


Memphis Queer Fest 2: Day 3 — Day Show

Midtown Crossing Grill
2 p.m.

2 p.m. — TBA
2:40 p.m. — Party Pat
3:10 p.m. — Androids of Ex-Lovers
4 p.m. — Hardagay

Memphis Queer Fest 2: Day 3 — Evening Show
Hi Tone
6 p.m.

6 p.m. — Dixie Dicks
6:40 p.m. — Three Brained Robot
7:20 p.m. — Lackluster
8:00 p.m. — Craigzlist Punks
8:20 p.m. — Hummin’ Bird
9:20 p.m. — Tears For The Dying
10 p.m.— Lovergurl
10:40 p.m. — Wick and the Tricks
11:10 p.m. — The Gloyholes

Stand-up schedule:
7:10 p.m. — Joe Griz
7:50 p.m. — Lisa Michaels
8:30 p.m. — Josh McLane
9:10 p.m. — Jay Jackson
9:50 p.m. — Vala Bird
10:30 p.m. — Hann Cowger
11 p.m. — MOTH MOTH MOTH


Smith7 Pants Tour Benefiting OUTMemphis

Rec Room
7 p.m.
18 and over show
$5 cover

XVII TRILL - hip hop
PXLS - video game cover band
Wicker - Chaos rock
Ruzka - Fallout rock
Super Smash Bros Tournament


Pride At The Pump Part 2: The Pink Party
The Pumping Station
10 p.m.
No cover

“The Pump started World Pride Month with an incredible party! Now, we're doing it again as part of the month's closing ceremonies! Come join us and show your true colors! Pink and/or Pride attire (from tank tops to tutus – to whatever) is encouraged!

“In honor of the occasion and our community, and by popular demand, Record Player is serving up an encore play of his Pride DJ set that had the place packed with people dancing and singing all night long as we opened Pride Month!”


A Night with the Legends! - End of PRIDE Month Extravaganza!
Club Spectrum
9 p.m.

“Six of Memphis' biggest names hit the stage as legendary music stars to help throw the Biggest Goodbye to Pride month you've ever seen! This show will feature:

Freak Nasty as Tina Turner
Keleigh Klarke as Adele
Iris LeFluer as Madonna
Slade Kyle as Bella DuBalle
Aubrey Ombre as Mariah Carey
Jerred Price as Sir Elton John
Obsinity as Reba McEntire


Memphis Queer Fest 2: Day 4
Dru's Place
3 p.m.

3:00 p.m. — Queer Circus Girls
4:45 p.m. — Stay Fashionable
5:30 p.m. — Midtown Queer
6:20 p.m. — Exit Mouse

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Thursday, June 20, 2019

LGBTQ Job Fair Headed to Crosstown Next Week

Posted By on Thu, Jun 20, 2019 at 10:43 AM

  • OUTMemphis/Facebook

OUTMemphis is hosting an LGBTQ youth job fair next week at Crosstown Concourse.

If you're LGTBQ between the ages of 18 and 25, get your resume and yourself to the second floor of the atrium on Tuesday, June 25th from noon to 5 p.m.
"We will have plenty of LGBTQ-affirming employers ready to talk to you about joining their teams," OUTMemphis said. "This is a safe space for LGBTQ youth seeking employment opportunities, and as such all employers will be seeking skilled and hard-working folks regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other identifying factors.

For more information on attending or becoming a vendor, send an email to youth@outmemphis.org or check out the Facebook event.

The event is co-sponsored by the city of Memphis and its Division of Housing and Community Development.

What: LGBTQ Youth Job Fair
When: Tuesday, June 25th, noon-5:00 p.m.
Where: Crosstown Concourse, Second Floor Atrium
Who: LGBTQ job seekers 18-25

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Thursday, June 6, 2019

Youth Service Programs Fueled with FedEx Grant

Posted By on Thu, Jun 6, 2019 at 12:52 PM

  • FedEx Corp.

FedEx Corp. has donated $25,000 to OUTMemphis to support its services and programming for youth ages 13-25.

The company's Global Citizenship grant will support social support groups for youth and families, trainings and outreach at Memphis-area schools, and the Metamorphosis Project, a wrap-around network of services for youth ages 18-24 experiencing homelessness and instability.

"Our Youth Services program started a decade ago with a youth group, a food pantry, and a closet full of interview clothes," said Stephanie Reyes, OUTMemphis' director of development. “ As more and more young people came to the center from across the South looking for support, we realized that we had a mandate to expand and fill the gaps we were seeing.” 

OUTMemphis says across the country, 40 percent of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ, largely due to family conflict. Of that number, the largest percentage of homeless youth are both black and LGTBQ, a significant community in majority black cities like Memphis.

From OUTMemphis:

Five years ago, OUTMemphis began providing case management to youth clients and identified a significant need for hygiene supplies, bus passes, and other emergency services. With support from the community, The Youth Emergency Services Program gradually expanded to a holistic approach to supporting young adults who find themselves without ways to care for basic needs.

Beginning in 2017, OUTMemphis began receiving support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which allows the organization to provide a full year of rental assistance and case management to 18-to-24-year-olds experiencing homelessness. This program is one of just two youth-specific housing programs in Memphis and the only one dedicated to LGBTQ youth for hundreds of miles in every direction.

At the end of this 2019, the Metamorphosis Project will again significantly expand its housing and emergency services program with a Youth Emergency Center, located at 2055 Southern Avenue. The space will host a drop-in center for any young person in need under 25 and an emergency shelter for LGBTQ youth ages 18-24.

“The growth of our youth services program across the spectrum of young Memphians that we serve – and our capacity to provide even more looking ahead – is not possible without the enormous support that OUTMemphis receives from the community, including the partners who made the emergency center possible and believe in the work we are doing," said OUTMemphis executive director Molly Rose Quinn. "We are so grateful that FedEx sees the value of the work we are doing with youth in Memphis and wants to be a part of it. We hope that as we grow, more companies will take their lead and get involved with the work that is being done locally.”

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Memphis 901 FC Hosts Pride Night

Posted By on Thu, May 30, 2019 at 9:39 AM

  • Memphis 901 FC

Memphis 901 FC hosts its first Pride Night on Saturday, June 8th to help raise awareness for OUTMemphis and the Bluff City Sports Association.

The 901 FC takes on Indy Eleven that night at AutoZone Park in an event “aimed to benefit community groups serving all Memphians regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender expression, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.”

Here’s what’s on tap for the evening:

The Bluff City Mafia, 901 FC’s recognized supporters group, will host a pre-match Pride March beginning at The Brass Door and ending at AutoZone Park prior to kickoff.

Molly Quinn and Stephanie Bell of OUTMemphis will serve as the night’s honorary captains while Chris Balton, former North America Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance commissioner, will be the guest of honor for Memphis’ pre-match guitar smash.

In addition, Memphis 901 FC forward Jochen Graf will participate in the Athlete Alley’s Playing for Pride campaign. Hundreds of soccer players have taken part in the campaign aimed at supporting LGBTQ rights.

Throughout the month of June, Graf, players, and fans can donate to Playing for Pride for every game played, every assist, and every goal scored. In the past, those donations have been matched with donations exceeding $25,000.


Tickets start at $15. For $30, you can get a sideline ticket and pretty baller hat. Get your tickets online or by calling (901) 721-6000.

Bluff City Sports Association, Inc. is nonprofit organization aimed to provide a safe environment for the LGBTQ community and friends of the LGBTQ community to participate in sports.

OUTMemphis is a nonprofit that empowers, connects, educates and advocates for the LGBTQ community of the Mid-South.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Update on Bills Considered a Threat to LGBTQ Tennesseans

Posted By on Tue, May 2, 2017 at 3:38 PM

Tennessee's 2017 legislative session spawned six bills identified as discriminatory towards LGBTQ citizens by advocacy organizations like the Tennessee Equality Project, OUTMemphis, and American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee.

Dubbed the "Slate of Hate" by TEP, the six bills featured resurrected attempts to undermine marriage equality as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v Hodges in new and inventive ways.
The session also hosted this year's attempt to enforce which public restroom transgender adults and underage students can and cannot use.

With the 2017 session drawing to a close as early as next week, here's a full breakdown of the status of each bill in the Slate of Hate.

SB30/HB33 discussed under SB1085/HB1111: Sponsored by Sen. John Stevens and Rep. Andrew Ellis Farmer
As introduced, requires that undefined words be given their natural and ordinary meaning, without forced or subtle construction that would limit or extend the meaning of the language, except when a contrary intention is clearly manifest.

Status: Passed by both Senate and House, the next stop is Governor Bill Haslam's desk, where he will either sign it into law or veto it. Haslam has gone on record to say that he is deferring to the will of the legislators.

TEP is currently circulating a petition calling on Haslam to veto the bill, which they say has the potential to jeopardize same-sex couples' marital or divorce statuses, and child custody matters. The full implications of the bill are largely unknown.

SB771/HB8888: Sponsored by Se. Mae Beavers and Rep. Mark Pody
As introduced, requires students in public school and public institutions of higher education to use restrooms and locker rooms that are assigned to persons of the same sex as that indicated on the student's birth certificate.

Status: Failed in Senate Education Committee, unlikely to return this year.

SB127/HB54: Sponsored by Sen. Mark Green and Rep. Jason Zachary
As introduced, prohibits state and local governments from taking discriminatory action against a business based on that business' internal policies. Basically, if a business discriminates towards an LGBTQ individual, then they are protected in the state of Tennessee.

Status: Deferred to State Committee subcommittee for the first of 2018. Though it's not an absolute guarantee, legislators will often defer a bill to next year's subcommittee when they want it to die quietly.

SB752/HB892: Sponsored by Sen. Mae Beavers and Rep. Mark Pody
As introduced, enacts the "Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act", which states the policy of Tennessee to defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary.

Status: Deferred to a Civil Justice Subcommittee for the first of 2018. (See above)

SB1153/HB1406: Sponsored by Sen. Joey Hensley and Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver
As introduced, repeals statute that deems a child born to a married woman as a result of artificial insemination, with consent of the married woman's husband, to be the legitimate child of the husband and wife.

Status: This bill has been parked for a while in a Senate Judiciary Committee, and likely won't be heard again this session.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bathroom Bill Halted in TN Legislature

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 3:44 PM

The 2017 version of Tennessee's "Bathroom Bill" may not be completely dead, but it is on life-support after failing to get the required motion to be heard in the Senate Education Committee.

The bill, which would require students in public schools and higher-ed institutions to use restroom and locker facilities that correspond with the gender indicated on their birth certificate, is unlikely to move to House Committee next week.

The attempt to regulate which bathroom a student uses is of a particular danger to transgender students, who are safer using a facility that matches their outward gender expression, according to the Tennessee Equality Project.

During a press conference yesterday, TEP chairwoman Ginger Leonard referenced a study conducted by the Williams Institute at the Univeristy of California Los Angeles School of Law that reported more than 70 percent of transgender people surveyed have been verbally and physically harassed, attacked, or denied entries to public restrooms because of gender identity.

There are no reports of any attacks carried out by transgender individuals who used their preferred gender identity to gain access to a restroom.

There are still five more bills up for consideration in the Tennessee Legislature that have been deemed a threat to the LGBTQ community by associated advocacy organizations.

TEP: Laws That Target LGBTQ Community Could Cost State Billions

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 11:26 AM

During a joint press conference, representatives from the Tennessee Equality Project and OUTMemphis dissected six bills that, if made into law, could cost the state of Tennessee billions in federal funding and have unintended consequences for all Tennesseans regardless of sexual and gender identity.

If passed, HB 892, or the "Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act" could cost the state of Tennessee billions in federal funding allotted to TennCare and the Department of Human Services, to the tune of $9.5 billion, according to TEP chairwoman Ginger Leonard and the bill's own fiscal note.

"This bill comes with an enormous price tag," said Leonard, who stressed that economic boycotts could also cost the state heavily in revenue and job losses resulting from economic boycotts.

Last year, Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law legislation that allowed counselors to refuse treatment of an LGBTQ individual if treating them violated "sincerely held religious principles". The American Counseling Association promptly cancelled their conference scheduled to be held in Nashville, costing the state an estimated $4 million in revenue.

The Natural Marriage Defense Act is one of six bills that TEP officials say targets LGBTQ citizens. Among other bills is a revived attempt at forcing students in the state to use restroom and locker facilities that correspond with their gender that appears on their birth certificate. 
Senator Mae Beavers is one of the lawmakers defying the U.S. Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage.
  • Senator Mae Beavers is one of the lawmakers defying the U.S. Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage.

The fiscal impact of the so-called "Bathroom Bill" could also come in the form of economic boycotts.

Referring to the state of North Carolina, which passed a similar law last year, Leonard wondered,"How much has North Carolina already lost?"

According to Forbes, North Carolina has already lost $630 million in tourism dollars as of November last year.

Beyond economic impact, Leonard and OUTMemphis executive director Will Batts implored concerned citizens to think about the dangers posed to same-sex families.

HB1111, dubbed the "Erasure Bill" by its opponents, will require undefined words be given their "natural and ordinary meaning". In other words, terms like "husband", "wife", "father", and "mother" must correspond with their traditional biological association in legal documents.

Should HB1111 pass, Tennessee judges could potentially use the language to deny a couple's marital status in divorce proceedings, child custody, or matters relating to inheritance or hospital visitations. TEP asserts that the full legal ramifications of the bill have gone unexplored.

"This one is sneaky, but not so sneaky that we can't see what they're doing," said Batts. "They want us to disappear. We know this because that's what this bill does. It erases us."

This is the full line up of all six bills.

SB771/HB8888: Sponsored by Se. Mae Beavers and Rep. Mark Pody
As introduced, requires students in public school and public institutions of higher education to use restrooms and locker rooms that are assigned to persons of the same sex as that indicated on the student's birth certificate.

SB1085/HB1111: Sponsored by Sen. John Stevens and Rep. Andrew Ellis Farmer
As introduced, requires that undefined words be given their natural and ordinary meaning, without forced or subtle construction that would limit or extend the meaning of the language, except when a contrary intention is clearly manifest. (This bill is similar to SB30/HB33, but discussed under SB1085/HB1111)

SB127/HB54: Sponsored by Sen. Mark Green and Rep. Jason Zachary
As introduced, prohibits state and local governments from taking discriminatory action against a business based on that business' internal policies.

SB752/HB892 Sponsored by Sen. Mae Beavers and Rep. Mark Pody
As introduced, enacts the "Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act", which states the policy of Tennessee to defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary.

SB1153/HB1406 Sponsored by Sen. Joey Hensley and Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver
As introduced, repeals statute that deems a child born to a married woman as a result of artificial insemination, with consent of the married woman's husband, to be the legitimate child of the husband and wife.

Monday, March 20, 2017

TEP and OUTMemphis Team Up to Address State Bills

Posted By on Mon, Mar 20, 2017 at 4:02 PM

There will be a joint press conference tomorrow between the Tennessee Equality Project and OUTMemphis in response to the slate of anti-LGBTQ bills that are snaking their way through this year's state legislative session.

The conference, dubbed the "Slate of Hate", is scheduled to take place in front of OUTMemphis at 3:00 p.m.. Local representatives from both organizations will inform attendees the intent and current status of each anti-LGBTQ bill currently in the works.

This year, state representative Mark Pody and state senator May Beavers have concentrated their efforts on two bills considered extremely threatening by TEP, and possibly just about every other LGBTQ citizen in Tennessee.

The two have sponsored HB0892, or the "Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act", which predictably enough, seeks to establish marriage in Tennessee as only occurring between one cisgender man and one cisgender woman, "regardless of any court decision to the contrary".

This is the same Rep. Pody who once declared that God had called upon him to stop same-sex sinners and their enablers, and encourage them to repent.

The dynamic duo has also concerned themselves with a familiar and ongoing theme of policing genitalia and its owner's corresponding bathroom usage by introducing this year's version of a "Bathroom Bill".

If passed, the bill would require transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender assigned on birth certificates.

It's a similar bill to the one that was passed in North Carolina in 2016, HB2. Consequently, it is now estimated that HB2 has cost the state of North Carolina more than half a billion in tourism dollars, and an unknown number of jobs.

Finally, the press conference is also expected to address HB1406, a bill that if passed would deem children conceived through artificial insemination as illegitimate. This charming piece of legislation is sponsored by state senator Joey Hensley and state representative Terri Lynn Weaver.

Rep. Weaver has stated that the bill's intent is not to harm the LGBTQ community in Tennessee, and maybe she means it. Maybe Rep. Weaver was adversely affected by the 1948 classic, "Test Tube Babies".

Either way, if this bill becomes law then its very possible that any couple who conceives a child through artificial insemination would have their child listed as an "illegitimate offspring".

OUTMemphis is located at 892 Cooper St. in Midtown. Come and find out more about the antics of Beaver, Weaver, and Co. and learn how concerned citizens can get involved.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Trans Equality Rally Planned for Memphis

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 2:43 PM

  • Courtesy of Trans Equality Rally Planning Committee

OUTMemphis will hold a rally in support of transgender rights and protections tomorrow at the Overton Park Greensward from 5:00p.m. to 7:00p.m. in response to the Trump administration's revocation of federal protections for transgender students in public schools.

Last week, officials with the federal departments of education and justice notified the U.S. Supreme court that the administration will order that public schools disregard Obama's federal guidelines that say prohibiting a transgender student's ability to use the restroom that aligns with their gender-identity is a violation of federal anti-discrimination laws.

OUTMemphis' transgender services coordinator, Kayla Gore reiterated OUTMemphis' commitment to fight the federal revocation and all future measures out of the Trump administration that could harm LGBTQ individuals.

"The LGBTQ community, and specifically the transgender community refuses to be silent in the face of deliberate and targeted discrimination," said Gore. 

Several Memphis organizations have signed on to attend the rally including Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region and the Tennessee Equality Project. The rally will host several speakers from these and other community organizations.

The state of Tennessee has also joined in on the federal efforts to police bathroom use by transgender individuals.

State lawmakers Rep. Mark Pody and Sen. Mae Beavers have revived the "bathroom bill" for this year's legislative session. Last year a similar piece of legislation was introduced by Rep. Susan Lynn but was ultimately scrapped amid growing resistance and controversy.

The state of North Carolina passed their own version of the "bathroom bill" in 2016, and saw immediate backlash from national sports organizations like the NBA and the NCAA, who both pulled multi-million dollar events from North Carolina venues. Forbes estimates that the state has lost $630 million in tourism revenue as a result of the law's backlash.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Fed Ex, St.Jude Among Memphis Names Aligning Against Anti-LGBTQ Bill

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 1:36 PM

Memphis' largest employer, FedEx, is among some of the area organizations that have signed on to the Tennessee Thrives pledge. - COURTESY OF FEDEX
  • Courtesy of FedEx
  • Memphis' largest employer, FedEx, is among some of the area organizations that have signed on to the Tennessee Thrives pledge.
Some of the most recognized organizations in Memphis including FedEx, St.Jude, and International Paper added their names to the Tennessee Thrives pledge, a coalition of more than 300 Tennessee businesses signaling their displeasure with a recently passed anti-LGBTQ law and calling for an inclusive Tennessee.

The law, which was signed by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam allows mental health counselors to refuse treatment to LGBTQ patients if their sexual orientation or gender identity conflicts with the therapist's religious beliefs.

Just two weeks after the law's passage in late April, the American Counseling Association cancelled a scheduled conference in Nashville, saying the law was in clear violation of the ACA code of ethics and they would stand firm against it. The ACA projected a local economic loss of $10 million for Nashville as a result of the conference's cancellation.

It's a similar tale to North Carolina, where the NBA and the NCAA immediately cancelled games in response to the state's passage of laws meant to force transgender citizens to use bathroom and locker facilities that correspond with the biological sex on their birth certificate.

Other private organizations and even musicians such as Bruce Springsteen began to quickly follow suit.

The Center for American Progress estimated that economic loss in North Caroline could soar to more than $568 million in private sector activity based on the growing list of organizations distancing themselves from the state.

Tennessee Thrives signees are hoping to avoid similar economic repercussions.

Some of the Memphis-based organizations that have signed the Tennessee Thrives pledge are: FedEx, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, International Paper, AutoZone, Baker Donelson, Memphis College of Art, Rhodes College, and Little Bird Innovations.


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