The Tennessee Equality Project will honor Chattanooga Councilman Chris Anderson, AT&T Tennessee, and Vanderbilt University as Champions of Equality at Olympus, the organization's annual gala event.

At the announcement of this year’s honorees, Executive Director Chris Sanders said: "Our 2014 Champions of Equality highlight the importance of workplace protections for LGBT people in Tennessee.  As the courts bring us closer to a decision on marriage equality, we still have much to do to protect our community from discrimination at work.  We celebrate Councilman Chris Anderson, AT&T, and Vanderbilt for advancing protections that make the workplace truly inclusive.  We invite the community to join us in honoring them on September 19."

Chris Anderson is a first-term Chattanooga Council Member who introduced a partner benefits and non-discrimination ordinance for city government employees.  He successfully fought off an anti-gay recall effort this year.  Anderson is the first openly gay elected official to win a contested race for a legislative body in Tennessee.

AT&T is an American multinational telecommunications corporation with a long history in Tennessee.  As well as putting in place exemplary policies inclusive of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community, AT&T Tennessee played a significant role in diffusing the "Turn the Gays Away" bill in the 108th General Assembly.

Vanderbilt University is one of the nation's leading research universities.  Vanderbilt was among the first large employers based in Tennessee to offer policies inclusive of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.  Vanderbilt has also defended these policies against attacks in the General Assembly.

Exclusive to O&AN, Sanders spoke on the importance of fundraising events like this one that sustain TEP.

"Most of our revenue comes from individual donations throughout the year,” he said, “so we are now using the event to encourage recurring donations.  Those who make contributions of a certain level or recurring donations of a certain level get tickets to Olympus and to the VIP party immediately before the event.  Of course, you can simply buy an individual ticket, too.  So we're trying to tie this event as well as our annual Gumbo Contest in Memphis to our individual fundraising.  The event will continue to evolve into a way of thanking donors and honoring Champions of Equality every year."

As well, TEP is aware of the fundraising mix that LGBT Tennesseans and our supporters face when deciding which among all of our non-profits to support: "We know that there are many great organizations serving Tennessee's LGBT community,” Sanders said. “I think we can make a good case for being part of the mix of a person's giving because we get results.  We have a good record of advancing positive legislation at the local level, stopping bad bills at the state level, and providing educational programming throughout the state."

Olympus, the organization’s third annual gala event, will take place on September 19 at the Parthenon.




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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