project1americaMarriage bans recently have gone the way of the bigoted dodo in Idaho, Oregon (mazel tov to the wedded pairs!!), Pennsylvania, even Arkansas. What’s up in Red Tennessee?

Plenty. The local efforts of brave do-gooding groups such as Tennessee Equality Project have been underway for 10 years to bring fairness and justice to the Volunteer State. For just as long, they’ve been pretty much ignored on the national front because, well, the Deep South seemed impenetrable (and we all know that too often national activist groups focus on what they consider possible over doing what’s right). But that’s changing.

We have the Human Rights Campaign to thank. (Better late than never.) The DC-based civil rights group finally has launched an effort focused on the Bible Belt states of Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. Project One America, announced late last month nand reported by Nashville’s Out & About, will be the biggest effort HRC has ever made in the south: Over three years, the group plans to spend $8.5 million and send 20 workers into those states to try and change the minds and hearts of legislators and citizens on the issues involved in gaining true, full equality for LGBT citizens.

That’s a huge deal, Out & About reports, quoting from a 2014 report by Funders for LGBTQ Issues.

The numbers are stark. “Of the estimated 8 million ‘out’ LGBT adults living in the United States, nearly 2.7 million are living in the U.S. South—nearly one-third of all LGBT adults.” When it comes to funding, however, the percentage shifts dramatically. While national foundation funding in 2011 & 2012 provided LGBTQ organizations “$123 million and $121.4 million respectively,” funding for such organizations “based in or serving the 14 Southern states totaled a mere $4.4 million in 2011 and $4.8 million in 2012.” The easy justification for this is that such money would not be well spent and that LGBTQ rights will have to be won at the national level and forced upon the South. But the recent state court decision in Arkansas, and the effective lobbying of local groups like the Tennessee Equality Project reveal this justification to be short-sighted.

Now, how do we get HRC to buttress Tennessee Equality Project’s awesome efforts???

Read the full story at Out & About.

As to what’s up in our state, TEP is on the case. Its website announces that it is ready for the inevitable day when a judge (or the legislature, perhaps?) wakes up and realizes that Tennessee’s ban is as unconstitutional as every other law that bans marriage on the basis of sexual orientation. The game plan is the group’s Ready on Day One Campaign.

From TEP’s blog:

The day will come when the courts strike down Tennessee’s ban on marriage of couples of the same gender. That will be a day of joy and possibly chaos. Let’s do all we can to make it a great day for equality by helping couples who wish to get married have all the support they need. Though it will not be possible to offer assistance in every county in TN, we hope to provide support in every region of the state so that all couples needing assistance are within an hour and a half of help.

Being good progressives, we have a duty to do our part to lend a hand. TEP needs:

  •  couples ready to promise ’til death on Day One
  • couples married in other states who are denied recognition in Tennessee
  • those empowered to officiate over weddings
  • volunteers to lend assistance as needed
  • donors.

If you want to do some good and be involved in any way, get busy; click this link.

If you want to donate, here’s the link.

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