Yesterday, across the state, the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) mobilized its supporters for Marriage Equality Day rallies across the state. In Nashville, hundreds turned out, signs in hand, to advocate for the hot topic and as the sweat beaded in the mid-90s temperatures, TEP helped keep it cool with numerous speakers and calls to action on a variety of issues affecting the Tennessee LGBT communities.
Acting TEP Executive Director Chris Sanders opened the rally with a short speech before asking Steven Altum, member of the HRC Nashville Steering Committee, to give a short speech.
Guests included City Council members Erica Gilmore and Peter Westerholm.
A highlight of Nashville's rally included the remarks from two couples who applied for Tennessee marriage licenses but were denied (see below). Megan Smith and Lindsay Wagoner applied in mid-August and were denied in Hamilton County. The couple has since waged their battle electronically and started their own Tennessee Marriage Equality Facebook page, which has garnered nearly 1,000 likes.
The second couple, Jef Laudieri and Will Peyton, applied at a Davidson County clerks office in early August.
Sanders then took the time to talk about other battles that TEP is waging on behalf of Tennessee's LGBT community, including the push for same-sex partner benefits in local governments across Tennessee. Citing the recent Collegedale decision to provides its city employees with same-sex partner benefits, Sanders said, "If Collegedale can do it, we can do it and a lot of other cities and counties around the state can do it." (see below)
Sanders also encouraged those in attendance to sign a poster to Senator Lamar Alexander asking him to vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and not "water down through amendments the transgender protections that he threatened to do."
The rally concluded with a massive photo gathering of the participants and a message for those wandering around wondering what the rally was for . . . Marriage Equality Day!