Reader comments on Equality Day on the Hill

In March, Tennessee Equality Project and the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, along with an impressive array of engaged activists from across the state, gathered in Nashville for Advancing Equality Day on the Hill. One first time participant in the annual event shared her impressions of the day:


I am the Knox, Anderson & Blount Counties Committee Chair and a board member [of TEP]. This was the first time I was able to attend this event. I have done public speaking but I was still nervous because I did not know what to expect, partly because of what I have seen from them either in the media or when I watch them in session on PBS. I was thankful that this year we were not having to discuss any Turn Away the Gays bill, Don't Say Gay bill, or License to Bully bill. But still the fact that we had to again discuss the Counseling Discrimination bill was serious, because it moved so quickly in the Senate last time.

I knew that any LGBT related bills would probably not be well received by my legislators. I live in Rockford, Blount County. I first met with Senator Overbey. I knew that he was going to have a committee meeting later [that day] regarding numerous gun legislation so I could tell that I didn't have a lot of his focus. He seemed to remember the Counseling Discrimination Bill from 2013 but he could not remember how he voted [He did not vote on the bill].

He did seem receptive of my talking points regarding the bill and said he would consider opposing the bill. He didn't have an opinion on SB 0371 and didn't want to discuss it further. He also didn't know where he stood on SB1037, [though] he seemed to agree that bullying isn't good and that there needs to be a better reporting method.

I then met with Rep. Swann and he was a very different experience. He was stone faced and didn't want to even look up the bills. He went off on a tangent about the bullying bill and was concerned with false reporting and how there are numerous false reports and then people who "didn't do anything wrong" are affected, which was essentially a blame the victim mentality. He also was not supportive of the Human Rights Act.

Overall, it was an adventure. I never expected so many other groups to be there talking to legislators but it was great to see it in action.

I hope my schedule allows me to go next year. If I can't make it, I will continue emailing, calling and writing my legislators. However, I highly recommend that others take the opportunity to go and talk to their legislator about the issues.

 - Gwen Schablik





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