A Tale of Two Tennessees: Progress Made; Progress Yet to Be Made

While the town of Collegedale makes progress by approving benefits for same-sex couples, The Tennessee Equality Project reminds us all of the barrier of Tennessee’s gay marriage equality ban.

First, the Collegedale story from timesfreepress.com.

Starting today, Collegedale is the first city in Tennessee that will offer benefits to same-sex spouses of its government employees.

For some walking out the doors of Collegedale City Hall on Monday night, that distinction is a badge of honor and a far-reaching victory. For other residents of the small town, it’s a heavy disappointment in what they say is an erosion of traditional family values they hoped their city leaders would defend.

[snip]

Resident Neil Lane, calling himself “a Christian man,” said he was ashamed people would take a stand against “just plain fairness.” The pulpit should be saved for the church, he said.

“Collegedale can look forward,” he said. “Show them you are not a backwater little town.”

Others questioned the validity of the policy in a state that does not recognize same sex marriages.

City Attorney Sam Elliott explained that the policy “does not define marriage” and that it was “written to respect what Tennessee law provides.”

However, he said, the Tennessee Court of Appeals recognizes the term “family” as a “flexible term that is broad enough to include a collective body of persons who form one household and who have reciprocal, natural, or moral obligations to support and care for one another.”

He and the commission worked under that definition to rewrite the policy, he said.

Read the full article

And now Out & About Newspaper brings us video of Jef Laudieri and Will Peyton who have been together 9 years and were denied a marriage license based on the Tennessee constitutional amendment banning gays from getting married.

The Tennessee Equality Project says that the action of applying for a license was a step to help challenge the Tennessee constitutional amendment in court:

Chris Sanders, [Tennessee Equality Project] Executive Director, told reporters this was a first step in the necessary court challenge to Tennessee’s same-sex marriage ban. “It’s going to require a court challenge. What happened today was a piece of that. This gives the couples that apply for marriage licenses, but are refused, more standing if they wish to challenge the state constitutional marriage ban in court . . . this is one part of a multi-pronged strategy to overturn Tennessee’s state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.”

Read the full article

Often times, we will contact government officials to tell them that we are unhappy with something that they are doing, but there is also a time to let them know they are doing things that we like. It’s how baby steps in progress turn into long strides. So take a minute to let the Collegedale Commissioners know that you’re proud that they have made progress.

And visit The Tennessee Equality Project website to see how you can help make more progress in the volunteer state.

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