What's in store for 2013?

This past year, Tennessee became the laughing stock because of policies our legislature passed, and tried to pass. It was so bad that Mother Jones named Tennessee America’s worst state legislature.

That’s pretty bad when you think about it. There was the abstinence-only sex education program, Saggy Pants bill, Police the Potty bill, License to Bully bill, and the infamous Don’t Say Gay bill.

We had U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ abortion scandal and Sen. Stacey Campfield spread lies about HIV/AIDS ... And created the Don’t Say Gay bill. All of this culminated into a media firestorm with coverage on CNN, FoxNews and even “The Colbert Report.” And you know it’s really bad when Colbert talks about it.

This leads me to think: What could next year hold for the GLBT community in the state legislature, and what can we do about it?

It’s a scary thought. Republicans now have 24 senators and 67 members in the House after the election. Democrats have nine and 24. That’s a supermajority for Republicans. Democrats last held that in 1976 and Republicans since Reconstruction, according to legislative records.

All of these bills affecting the GLBT community that failed or died last year could be brought up again. “This is wrong and it needs to end,” said Tennessee Equality Project President Chris Sanders at Rally for Equality. “Tennessee is a laughing stock; so let it end this year.”

I was at that rally. It was actually my first GLBT one and I thought there would be many people there. It was put out in multiple weekly e-blasts, sponsored by 27 organizations and shared on Facebook and Twitter. But to my surprise there were about 50 people there.

This was a good event and promoted multiple ways, but where was our community? Where were you reading this right now?

If we really want to bring change and let our voices be heard, our community needs to be involved more with these issues. I challenge everyone reading this to make a goal to do something to help advance our community this year.

Advancing Equality Day on the Hill will be on Tuesday, March 12. Mark your calendars, put it in your iPhone or whatever it takes for you to remember this date. Be there.

This is a chance to meet with state lawmakers and let your voices be heard. If they see the same people there, chances are no impact will be made. But if they actually see our community in full force, I bet a lot would be surprised how many of us are out there. It’s better to try than to do nothing at all, right?

Another option is to call or email your elected officials and let them know you opinion on future bills affecting our community. By just scanning the QR code in this article, you will find the contact information to every elected official in the state.

Complacency will not move us forward. But us coming together and acting as one will show that we care about what’s going on and we will not let legislation affecting our community, children, youth and family pass without a fight!

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