Early voting for the 2012 State Primary and County General Election has begun and runs through July 28. Election Day throughout Tennessee is Aug. 2. Races on this season’s ballot include U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, State Senate, State House of Representatives, School Board, Judges and various county offices. Out & About Newspaper presents these endorsements and recommendations.

Tennessee Senate: Republican Primary

It is tough to find a Republican equality advocate in the State Senate, so we urge you to vote against the following candidates. In other words, vote for someone else on the ballot if you choose to participate in the Republican primary:

District 2

Vote against Scott Hughes who has been beating the drum against Vanderbilt University’s non-discrimination policy. He also supports the "Don’t Say Gay" bill.

District 32

Vote against Woody Degan who has made it a point of noting his opposition to marriage equality on his website.

Tennessee House of Representatives: Democratic Primary

District 53

Jason Powell earns our endorsement because he has run an inclusive campaign and made an effort to connect with GLBT voters in his district.

District 58

Our endorsement goes to Steven Turner again this year. Turner has consistently reached out to the GLBT community. He also began his campaign this year with a message that he would stand up for Nashville and Tennessee cities, protecting them from the overreach of state government in local affairs. This includes the recent action of the General Assembly in nullifying Metro’s 2011 contractor non-discrimination ordinance. One of his opponents, Rep. Mary Pruitt, failed to stand up for Nashville’s non-discrimination ordinance when it came before the House of Representatives.

House District 84

Joe Towns Jr. gets our endorsement for his opposition to the "Don’t Say Gay" bill when he was chair of the House Education Subcommittee.

House District 85

O&AN endorses Rep. Johnnie Turner for her opposition to the "Don’t Say Gay" bill and for being an ally when she was head of the Memphis NAACP.

House District 90

Rep. Jeanne Richardson runs away with our endorsement. Richardson has been the House sponsor of the bill to allow gender changes to birth certificates and the bill to add gender identity and gender expression to the state’s hate crimes law. She also stood against HB600 on the House floor last year, calling it "homophobic." Her opponent, Rep. John DeBerry, voted and spoke in support of the "Don’t Say Gay" bill in the House Education Subcommittee this year.

Tennessee House of Representatives: Republican Primary

There are not many champions of equality on the Republican side of the aisle in our Legislature, but we recommend voting AGAINST the following candidates in these races if you choose to vote in the Republican primary:

House District 11

Vote against Rep. Jeremy Faison, who stood up on the House floor and praised Rep. Glen Casada for sponsoring the bill that nullified Nashville’s 2011 non-discrimination ordinance.

House District 27

Vote against Rep. Richard Floyd who introduced the "Police the Potty" bill that even Republicans in the Senate thought was too extreme. He also promised to stomp a mudhole in any transgender person who dared to use a fitting room at a department store next to one of his relatives. His opponent is the famous Basil Marceaux, Sr. who ran for governor in 2010. As cryptic as Marceaux’s sayings were, they beat the destructive rhetoric coming from Floyd.

House District 45

Vote against Courtney Rogers, who is connected to the highly anti-gay Black Robe Regiment.

House District 66

Vote against Rep. Joshua Evans, who recently sponsored a resolution urging Tennessee’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives to oppose marriage equality for the city of Washington, D.C.

General Sessions Judge: District VIII

Rachel Bell earns our endorsement for her inclusive campaign that has included extensive outreach to Nashville’s GLBT community.

Metropolitan Nashville Board of Education

District 5

O&AN endorses both John Haubenreich and Gracie Porter. Haubenreich has served as president of the Davidson County Young Democrats in which he worked with Nashville’s GLBT community to support pro-equality candidates for State Legislature. He is also openly courting GLBT voters. As a member of the School Board, Porter has voted for the additions of sexual orientation and gender identity to the non-discrimination policies for teachers and students.

District 7

Will Pinkston, a former aide to Gov. Phil Bredesen, gets our endorsement. Pinkston’s campaign has reached out to Nashville’s GLBT community.

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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