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TN Transgender Coalition on ‘Crazy’ Legislative Session

Newsletter from the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition; May 4, 2012:

Knoxville Bans Discrimination; Tennessee General Assembly Adjourns

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) is pleased that the Knoxville City Council passed the proposed non discrimination ordinance unanimously. We appreciate all of you who stepped up by contacting your Council members and urging them to ban discrimination in City Government against transgender, lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees. We especially wish to express our gratitude to the Mayor, Madeleine Rogero, for her inspired leadership on this issue. Knoxville now joins a list of approximately 200 cities around the country, including Metro Nashville, that have banned such discrimination. Tracked 120 bills and was active lobbying on a number of issues.

The “Crazy” Session Finally Ends

The 2nd Session of the 107th Tennessee General Assembly adjourned on Tuesday, May 1, 2012. Earlier this year, Governor Bill Haslam described many of the bills being debated as “crazy.” We could not agree with him more. During the session, the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) tracked 120 bills and was active lobbying on a number of issues.

Education: TTPC worked against a bill which would have banned public school teachers from discussing sexual diversity. We also opposed a substitute bill which would place new restrictions on the Family Life Curriculum. We were part of a broad coalition of opponents against both bills which included the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Tennessee Education Association, Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), and the Women’s Political Collaborative of Tennessee. The former but died in the House, but the latter passed and was sent to the Governor. We also opposed two bills to require parental permission to join student clubs. One died in a Senate committee, but the former passed and was sent to the Governor. TTPC also opposed bills which would have provided religious exemptions for bullying. One was amended to remove the offensive language. TTPC also opposed bills that would permit official recognition of religious organizations in Tennessee schools that discriminate. The version for Colleges and Universities was passed, but was vetoed by Governor Haslam on May 2. The version for High Schools passed in the Senate, but died in the House.

Employment: TTPC fought in support of a bill that would repeal the ban on local non-discrimination ordinances, such as the one adopted by Nashville in 2011. Unfortunately, that effort failed in a Senate committee. TTPC also opposed proposed efforts to extend the local government bans to additional benefits, which which include full health care coverage for transgender workers and domestic partner benefits for couples. That legislation did not move in 2012. TTPC will continue to work against discrimination in the workplace.

Family Issues:There were no bills in 2012 to restrict the rights of LGBT residents to adopt. TTPC will continue to monitor this issue and will oppose any efforts to prevent LGBT Tennesseans from have loving families.

Hate Crimes: TTPC had SB314 by Senator Beverly Marrero (D-Memphis), and HB188 by Representatives Jeanne Richardson (D-Memphis) and Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville), which would add gender identity or expression to the Hate Crimes Penalty Enhancement Act of 2000. Our list of allies includes the NAACP, NOW, the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and TEP. A House subcommittee was not yet ready to protect the lives of Transgender Tennesseans in 2012.

Health Care: TTPC continued to educate legislators on the need to expand health care coverage to all Tennesseans, and to ensure that coverage was not denied to anyone based on sexual orientation or gender identity, or gender expression.

Personal Documents: TTPC strenuously opposed a bill that would permit harassment of transgender, gender variant, and gender non conforming persons who use public facilities. Because of this, the bill was withdrawn in the Senate. We will continue to fight any effort to move this bill in the future. TTPC was also part of a broad effort to repeal the new law requiring Photo Identification to vote, because we believe this legislation will disfranchise transgender voters. The coalition included the ACLU, AFL-CIO, Center for Independent Living, Common Cause, Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, NAACP of Nashville, NAACP of Tennessee, Nashville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Nashville Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Organized Neighbors of Edgehill, Tennessee Citizen Action, Tennessee Mental Health Consumer Association, and Urban EpiCenter. The repeal effort failed in a Senate committee.

Birth Certificates: TTPC had SB313 by Senator Marrero, and HB187 by Representatives Richardson and Michael Kernell (D-Memphis), which would permit gender changes on birth certificates. We held a hearing on the bill on March 13, but a majority of committee members were not yet ready to lift the ban. We will continue working with our sponsors and allies to get this important legislation passed in 2012.

Relationships: The House Republican Caucus announced in late 2008 that they would push a bill to ban recognition of civil unions. No such bill was introduced in 2011 or 2012. TTPC previously opposed this legislation in 2004, and is prepared to oppose any such bill in the future.

The 1st Session of the 108th General Assembly will convene on Tuesday, January 8, 2013. TTPC will continue to work for equal rights legislation including transgender persons, and will continue to oppose any legislation denying equal rights to all.

Marisa Richmond, President


And Please Save These Other Dates!

Saturday, May 5, 4 to 7 pm CDT
Upper Cumberland Pride
Dogwood Park
30 East Broad Street

Thursday, May 17, 7:00 pm, EDT
Community Forum
East Tennessee State University
Johnson City

Saturday, June 16
Nashville Pride
Riverfront Park

Saturday, June 23
Knoxville PrideFest

Saturday, July 21
TTPC Summer Meeting

Contact TTPC for information.

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) is an organization designed to educate and advocate on behalf of transgender related legislation at the Federal, State and local levels. Founded in 2003, TTPC is dedicated to raising public awareness and building alliances with other organizations concerned with equal rights legislation.

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