Press Releases

More that 260K Tennesseans Sign Petitions to Vote on Wine in Grocery Stores

Press release from Red White and Food; September 2, 2014:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 2, 2014) – Registered voters in 80 Tennessee municipalities will have the opportunity to vote Nov. 4 in referendums to allow the sale of wine in retail food stores, the Red White and Food campaign announced today.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for the state’s retail food stores and for their customers who want to be able to buy wine while shopping for groceries,” said Susie Alcorn, Red White and Food campaign manager. “Our goal has always been to give Tennesseans the opportunity to vote on this issue, and now they will have that chance.”

Red White and Food, its retail partners, and citizen volunteers collected a total of 262,247 signatures statewide on petitions authorizing the wine question to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot. The petition campaign began in mid-May, and the deadline for signature collection was Thursday, Aug. 21.

“Red White and Food would not have reached this important milestone without the support of our retail partners – including BI-LO, Food City, Food Lion, Kroger, Publix, Superlo Foods and Walmart,” Alcorn added. “Their dedication to collecting signatures in-store made all the difference in the success of this campaign. We’re grateful to the 262,247 Tennesseans who took the time to sign a petition and to the staffs of the state’s local election commissions who were tasked with verifying the signatures.”

Among the qualifying municipalities are Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County, Murfreesboro, the city of Memphis, Germantown, Jackson, the city of Chattanooga, Knoxville and unincorporated Knox County, and the Tri-Cities, including Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport. (A complete list of qualifying municipalities appears at the end of this document.)

“The massive amount of signatures collected during this short campaign is a testament to consumers’ desire to purchase wine where they shop for food,” said Steve Smith, president and chief executive officer of K-VA-T Food Stores/Food City, and board chairman of Red White and Food. “Our customers have been telling us for years that they want the convenience of buying wine at the grocery store. They made their voices heard in phase one of the campaign, and I hope that they will take that passion to the voting booth on Election Day. We will soon be gearing up for phase two of the campaign and getting all of our supporters to the polls.”

The campaign to place wine on retail food store shelves is not complete. Registered voters in qualifying communities must now vote on the wine referendum when they go to the polls during the general election. Early voting runs from Oct. 15 to Oct. 30, and Election Day is Nov. 4.

In the municipalities where the referendum is approved in November, retail food stores will be able to sell wine beginning July 1, 2016.

Gov. Bill Haslam signed the wine in retail food stores bill into law on March 20, paving the way for the Nov. 4 referendum in qualifying municipalities. In order to be verified by the local election commissions, petitions from each qualifying municipality had to carry valid signatures equal to 10 percent of the residents who voted in the 2010 gubernatorial election.

Press Releases

Citizen Action: MTSU Poll Proves New Voter ID Law Is Confusing

Statement from Tennessee Citizen Action; Oct. 24, 2011: 


Nashville, Tenn. (October 24, 2011) — A new poll issued by the MTSU Survey Group reveals that most Tennesseans are aware of new voter ID law, but many confused about the details. Tennessee Citizen Action released the following statement:

“We’re not surprised that many Tennesseans are confused about the details of the new photo ID to vote law because it’s in the details that the devil lives. The requirements necessary for Tennesseans to comply with the law are restrictive, excessive, and extremely confusing.

For instance, the law states that the ID must be a “Valid government-issued photo ID” but we’re being told we can use an expired drivers license. We’re not sure when “valid” and “expired” started to mean the same thing. We’re also being told that certain government-issued photo IDs, such as those issued by state universities and colleges, cannot be used, while others, such as gun permits, can.

Adding to the confusion is the very specific and excessive ID requirements needed for Tennesseans to obtain the necessary ID. You need proof of U.S. Citizenship, a primary proof of identity with full name and date of birth (like an original copy of a birth certificate) AND a secondary proof of identity AND a proof of name change if different from name on primary ID AND TWO proofs of Tennessee residency.

Basically, this law is taking away a person’s right to vote, telling them they have to get a government-issued photo ID to get it back, and confusing the hell out of them in the process. This is NOT what democracy looks like.”

Tennessee Citizen Action works in the public interest as Tennessee’s premier consumer rights organization focused on justice for all. As part of the No Barriers to the Ballot Box coalition, TNCA is working to repeal the photo ID to vote law.



NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

Photo Voter Bill En Route to Senate Floor

Tennessee lawmakers are trying for a fourth year to require voters to bring a photo ID with them to the ballot box.

“When a dead person votes, when a convicted felon votes, it disenfranchises someone who did it legally,” Senate sponsor Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, told members of the Senate State and Local Government Committee Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

Opponents, including committee Democrats, Common Cause and the American Civil Liberties Union, told committee members they’re concerned that the elderly or poor who don’t have the means to get a state ID would be turned off from voting.

The bill excludes those voting from hospitals and nursing homes, instead requiring them to vote absentee. For those who don’t bring photo IDs to the polls, the measure allows for voting by provisional ballot or after filing an affidavit, according to the bill and bill summary:

Under this bill, except as described below, if a voter is unable to present the proper evidence of identification, then the voter will be entitled to vote by provisional ballot in the manner detailed in the bill. The provisional ballot will only be counted if the voter provides the proper evidence of identification to the administrator of elections or the administrator’s designee by the close of business on the second business day after the election. The board would have until the close of business on the fourth business day after the election to count any provisional ballot cast under this bill.

Under this bill, a voter who is indigent and unable to obtain proof of identification without payment of a fee or who has a religious objection to being photographed must execute an affidavit of identity on a form provided by the county election commission in order to vote. The affidavit must state that the person executing the affidavit is the same individual who is casting the ballot and that the affiant is indigent and unable to obtain proof of identification without paying a fee or has a religious objection to being photographed.

Eight states now require that voters bring a photo ID with them to the polls in order to vote under most circumstances, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Under the Tennessee bill, a driver’s license, state ID, passport or military identification would be accepted.

The Republican measure passed along party lines with a 6-3 vote and heads to a scheduling committee then to the Senate floor. The proposal has always passed in the Senate since it was first introduced in 2007, but consistently died in the House of Representatives. Ketron says he’s confident the bill will pass both chambers this year now that the GOP has solid legislative majorities.

Ketron, who has previously tied the measure to efforts to stiffen penalties against illegal immigrants, says this bill would hamper their ability to vote, but says he’s specifically targeting convicted felons who lost their right to vote and others committing voter fraud.

Several hundred felons who lost their right to vote ended up casting ballots in the 2008 election, according to Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins, who said the state is approaching 100 convictions for the voting offense.

The House version is scheduled to go before a subcommittee later this month.

Press Releases

Transgender Political Coalition Rallies Behind Marrero, Richardson Bills

Release from the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition; Feb. 3, 2011:

Hate Crimes and Birth Certificate Bills Filed

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) is pleased to announce that both of our bills have been reintroduced in the 107th Tennessee General Assembly.

This week, SB 0313 by *Marrero (*HB 0187 by *Richardson) was filed, which would provide for amendment of birth certificate to reflect a change in gender. Currently, Tennessee is the only state in the nation with a law that totally bans such changes.

Also filed was SB 0314 by *Marrero (*HB 0188 by *Richardson), which adds as an advisory enhancement factor to sentencing that defendant intentionally chose victim of crime based on gender identity or expression. Passage of this bill will make it easier for state and local authorities to track and prosecute hate crimes against Transgender Tennesseans.

We would like to thank our chief sponsors on both bills, Senator Beverly Marrero, (D-Memphis) and Representative Jeanne Richardson (D-Memphis), for their continued support.

We urge Tennessee lawmakers to pass both of these vital pieces of legislation.

TTPC Targets Anti-LGBT Bills in State Legislature

Unfortunately, there are also several bills on file this year that can do a lot of harm to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Tennesseans:

*SB 0049 by *Campfield/HB 0229 by *Dunn is one such bill. Senator Campfield has been introducing this bill, which would ban the teaching of sexual diversity, for many years. It is anti education and a threat to intellectual freedom. TTPC has consistently opposed this bill in the past and will continue to do so in 2011.

SB0016 by Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro)/HB0007 by Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville) & Cameron Sexton (R-Pikeville), would create a new Photo ID to vote, which could effectively disfranchise transgender voters. TTPC, along with several civil liberties and voting rights groups, have fought similar legislation in the past.

SB0113 by Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and others/HB0130 by Debra Maggart & Glen Casada (R-College Grove) would abolishes teachers’ unions ability to negotiate terms and conditions of professional service with local boards of education. In 2008, the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association pushed to have sexual orientation and gender identity added to the non discrimination policy for Metro Nashville Public Schools. To date, Metro Nashville remains the only public school system in Tennessee which bans discrimination against LGBT students, staff, and faculty. We recognize the work of Nashville’s Teachers Union in working for non discrimination language and do not want to have others prevented from doing the same.

TTPC will remain vigilant in identifying any bills we consider harmful towards LGBT people and will fight against any and all of them.

If you do not know the name of your State Senator or Representative, you can Find Your Legislator by clicking here.

7th Annual Advancing Equality Day on the Hill

As part of this effort, we strongly urge everyone to join TTPC as we support the Tennessee Equality Project’s 7th Annual Advancing Equality Day on the Hill, on Tuesday, March 1. Join LGBT people and supporters from across the state in Nashville as we meet with state legislators and discuss issues of importance to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. More details about the event are below.

Wednesday, February 9, 7 pm EST

Lobbying 101

The Church of the Savior

934 N. Weisgarber Rd.

Knoxville, TN

TEP Knox County Committee

Thursday, February 10, 7 pm CST

Lobbying 101

Club Drink

23 Heritage Square


TEP Madison County Committee

Saturday, February 12, 4 pm EST

Lobbying 101

University of Tennessee Chattanooga Student Center, Lookout Mountain Room


TEP Hamilton/Bradley County Committee

Tennessee Equality Project has planned a number of events to enhance your lobbying day experience.

Monday, February 28

GLBT Candidate Training by Shawn Werner of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund

For everyone considering a run for elected office in their future.

TEP will offer a reception after the candidate training to welcome all AED participants. Exact times and locations shall be announced.

Tuesday, March 1, 8 to 9 am CST

Coffee and a light breakfast courtesy of the Vanderbilt Lambda Association.

The Rymer Gallery

233 Fifth Avenue North

Tuesday, March 1

7th Annual Advancing Equality Day on the Hill

Legislative Plaza and War Memorial Building


organized by Tennessee Equality Project

Metro Nashville Contract Accountability Non Discrimination Ordinance Deferred

As expected, BILL NO. BL2011-838, which would ban discrimination against all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees of contractors in Metro Nashville and Davidson County, was deferred on Second Reading until Tuesday, February 15 by voice vote.

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) wishes to thank the 22 members of the Metro Nashville Council who voted on January 18 to support the bill on First Reading.

Opponents of equality and fairness are working hard to defeat this latest effort to end discrimination. Those who believe in equality and fairness are also working hard to demonstrate support.

Every resident of Davidson County is represented by the five At-Large Members, who all voted Yes on Tuesday: Tim Garrett, Megan Barry, Charlie Tygard, Ronnie Steine, and Jerry Maynard, II. Please contact them and thank them for standing against discrimination, and ask them to continue supporting this important piece of legislation through the remaining votes.

If your District Councilmember voted Yes on January 18, please contact them and thank them as well for standing against discrimination, and ask them to continue supporting this important piece of legislation through the remaining votes. If you are not certain of the name of your District Councilmember, click on to find your district number.

Even if your Councilmember did not vote Yes, we still need you to contact them and express your support for ending discrimination in Metro Nashville contract work.

Then, please join us at the next Metro Council meeting on Tuesday, February 15, at 6:30 pm, for the Second Reading of the Ordinance. The Metro Council chamber is in the Metro Courthouse on the 2nd Floor.

Marisa Richmond


And Please Save These Other Dates!

March 13 to 15 (new dates!)

Congressional Lobby Days

Washington, DC

organized by the National Center for Transgender Equality

Saturday, July 23, 6:00 pm CDT

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. TTPC is dedicated to raising public awareness and building alliances with other organizations concerned with equal rights legislation.

Press Releases

TNDP: Election Problems Sen. Ketron’s Fault

Press Release from Tennessee Democratic Party; Aug. 19, 2010:

MURFREESBORO – State Sen. Bill Ketron shoulders much of the blame for recent election blunders that call into question the intention of the Murfreesboro lawmaker and Republican colleagues who fired election administrators across the state and delayed a law meant to improve elections.

Reported election mishaps in Rutherford, Davidson, Hawkins, Maury and Shelby counties have revealed troubling problems in Tennessee and the Republicans responsible for conducting those elections, according to Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester.

“Mr. Ketron and the Republican leadership in the General Assembly should apologize to all Tennesseans for mishandling elections in this state,” Forrester said. “People, regardless of their party affiliation, expect their votes to be counted correctly.

“Using wrong voter files, miscounting ballots, and not even opening voter precincts at all like over in Rutherford County do not provide many of us with confidence in the election process, which is the bedrock of our democracy. It appears the Republicans responsible for running our elections are either grossly incompetent or trying to manipulate election results.”

Ketron sponsored the bill that delayed until 2012 the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act, which required all county election commissions to make the switch to optical scan machines and paper ballots before the November 2010 elections. More than $30 million in federal funding has been set aside to purchase the new machines.

“If we had those machines in place earlier this month and Republicans hadn’t fired so many experienced election administrators, we likely would not have encountered as many problems,” Forrester said. “Republicans flat out lied when they said the purchase of these new machines would be a financial burden to county governments.”

Republicans took control of local election commissions in all 95 counties after the November 2008 elections, firing many county election administrators soon thereafter and threatening to fire Rutherford County Election Administrator Hooper Penuel, as well.

A federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of Penuel and several other county election administrators in Tennessee contending Republicans violated their constitutional rights by conspiring to treat their jobs as political patronage. Penuel has settled his claim with the Rutherford County Election Commission and will retire at the end of the year.

“Conducting fair and accurate elections is not a partisan issue,” Forrester said. “It is at the core of this country’s foundation. Instead of disenfranchising voters we should be encouraging as many citizens as we can to get involved in the process. Mr. Ketron appears to be more worried about playing partisan politics and taking care of special interests than he is about governing responsibly.”