On Thursday, Oct. 5, the Executive Committee of the Shelby County Democratic Party (SCDPEC) took positions on two referenda that will appear on the Nov. 7th ballot in Tennessee.
In the first of two resolutions the SCDPEC resolved that “all Tennessee voters are hereby urged to oppose the attempt to write discrimination into the Tennessee Constitution through proposed Amendment 1 by voting “NO” against the adoption of Amendment 1.” If passed, Amendment 1 would add discriminatory language against same-sex marriage and civil unions to the Tennessee Constitution. The resolution argued that the Tennessee Constitution presently “contains no language discriminating against any group of Tennesseans or expressly denying equal treatment to any group of Tennesseans.”
After the unanimous vote, committee member, Desi Franklin, declared that she “brought the resolution to oppose Amendment No. 1 to the local party’s executive committee because this amendment to our state constitution is not necessary – state law already prohibits same sex marriage – and it is wrong to write discrimination into our constitution.” With its vote on Amendment 1, the SCDPEC joined the National Democratic Party and the Davidson County Democratic Party in their opposition to anti-gay legislation and constitutional amendments. Matt Kuhn, Chair of the SCDPEC, proclaimed that “The Shelby County Democratic Party is proud to endorse a resolution keeping discrimination out of the Tennessee Constitution. We urge all other county Democratic parties across the State to pass similar resolutions."
The vote on Amendment 1 occurred amid a large crowd of onlookers from the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center’s Initiative: Fairness (I:F) and Memphis Stonewall Democrats. I:F and the Memphis Stonewall Democrats are active supporters of the statewide Vote No on One Campaign. I:F Co-Chair, Tommy Simmons, was elated to observe the unanimous decision. “I cannot underestimate the historical significance of this event to all LGBT citizens of Shelby County. Huge.” Fellow I:F Co-Chair, Jonathan Cole was surprised that “the resolution passed without any hint of opposition. This vote marks a high point for the Vote No on One Campaign.”
Franklin also introduced a resolution in support of another referendum on the ballot. Amendment 2 would allow the state legislature to implement a property tax relief program for seniors. Through its second resolution, the SCDPEC urged Tennesseans to vote yes on Amendment 2. Franklin “sponsored the resolution to support Amendment No. 2 because the Democratic Party stands for the principle of a retirement with dignity.” The Amendment 2 resolution also passed unanimously.
After both votes, Franklin concluded “I’m proud that the largest county Democratic Party in Tennessee has shown leadership on both of these issues, which reflect our Democratic values.”