Confirming its standing as a Republican stronghold, Tennessee contributed very little toward the Democrat wave of successes seen on the Nov. 7 election.
As congressional and senate districts nationwide refused the old rhetoric used by President Bush’s chief political strategist, Karl Rove (sometimes known as “Bush’s Brain”), to rally the Republican base on issues such as national security and gay baiting, it seems a majority of Tennesseans used Election 2006 to remind the rest of us where exactly “the base” is located.
Leading up to Election Day, most pundits were suggesting the Democrats could gain control of the Senate only if six toss-up races turned their way. One of those—and in the waning hours, the greatest long shot—was the race between Democrat Harold Ford Jr. and the Republican nominee Bob Corker. In a shot of irony, the Democrats did indeed gain the necessary seats to gain control of the Senate (as well as the House) but did it without the help of Tennessee.
Assisted by a leadership shakeup shortly after the Republican primary as well as what some considered the most classless political ad of the season (eventually dubbed the “Harold, call me” ad), the Republican Corker walked away with over 50,000 more votes than Ford. In the days after the election, some considered Ford’s acquiescence to national media demands more damning to a state that, in the end, chose not to use Election 2006 as a referendum of George W Bush’s performance.
The result of Tennessee’s Senate race bore no opportunities for the GLBT community long before Election Day: both nominees expressly stated their disfavor for gay marriage much earlier.
Moreover, Tennessee was one of seven states to democratically ban gay marriage. Though all amendments were worded differently—the one state to deny it, Arizona, for example, may have lost because it attempted to take away domestic partnership benefits regardless to sexual orientation—the intention for all was to limit the influence of courts deciding a state’s marriage laws.
Though the vote count in Tennessee was most devastating—CNN lists the Yes vote at 81 percent versus the No tally at 19 percent—there is a great likelihood the complicated requirement to amend the Constitution may have brought the religious community out in force. The amendment would only pass if 50 percent of those voting in the governor’s race, plus one vote, voted "yes." As well, unlike many seemingly similar convergences of church interest in state business, churches and religious groups were not barred from vocally endorsing their interest in this plebiscite.
Despite this, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force proudly claimed victory immediately after the election in an article that refused to so much as name the state of Tennessee.
Tennessee Equality Project’s president Chris Sanders told "O&AN," “there is no dishonor in falling short if you give your best in a worthy cause.” It’s a quote that—whether intended or not—just barely acknowledges a sense of neglect some of the Vote Np volunteers felt from the GLBT business community.
To that he added, “All our volunteers deserve a special word of thanks. Your passion for our cause is inspiring and your dedication is humbling.”