Twenty organizations will hold rallies in Memphis, Cookeville and Nashville on Sunday, Dec. 9, calling for equality. Specifically the rallies are designed to urge President Barack Obama to sign an executive order barring job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors and to call on the Tennessee General Assembly to end its legislative attacks on GLBT people ahead of convening in January.

The executive order has been identified by national strategists in the equality movement as an early priority for a second Obama term. Advocates in Tennessee support the order because of the inability to pass job protections in local contracting jobs after the Legislature nullified Metro Nashville’s 2011 contractor non-discrimination ordinance.

“The federal contractor executive order is our best chance in Tennessee to achieve job protections in the near future. We have few options in Tennessee after the Legislature deprived every city and county in the state of the right to determine the non-discrimination standards for its own contracting," said Chris Sanders, president of the Tennessee Equality Project. "The law that took away those options has been part of a pattern of attack legislation over the last few years. As we prepare for the 108th General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, we are also rallying to remind the public and our elected officials that we have an opportunity to make a new start without legislating discrimination.”

The coalition assembled by the Tennessee Equality Project includes the following organizations: Austin Peay State University Gay/Straight Alliance, Out & About Newspaper, Tennessee Tech Lambda, Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce, PFLAG Nashville, Greater Nashville Prime Timers, GLSEN Middle TN, Metro Human Relations Commission, Nashville Pride, OutCentral, Just Us at Oasis Center, PFLAG Maryville, Human Rights Campaign Nashville Steering Committee, CHOICES: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, Vanderbilt Lambda Association, Tennessee Democratic Party, Latino Memphis and First Congregational Church Memphis.

The Memphis rally takes place at 2 p.m. in front of the federal building.

The Cookeville rally takes place at 1 p.m. in front of the Putnam County Courthouse.

The Nashville rally takes place at 2 p.m. at War Memorial Plaza.

The Tennessee Equality Project has also started a petition urging the president to sign the executive order at the White House petition site. It can be found at http://www.wh.gov/9ALQ.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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